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Home >> China
UPDATED: 09:39, July 20, 2005
Typhoon hits coastal areas, one million evacuated
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More than one million people fled their homes along China's southeast coast as Typhoon Haitang slammed into the mainland yesterday after hammering Taiwan, killing four people.

At 5:10 pm, the typhoon hit the coastal Chinese town of Huangqi in Fujian Province, with winds of 126-kilometres-per-hour reported in Lianjiang in Fujian.

Heavy rain was falling over much of the province. State television showed villages awash with floodwaters that turned streets into rivers as well as soldiers delivering boxes of food to people living in temporary shelters.

More than 1 million people were evacuated from their homes in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, China Central Television reported.

One correspondent said the harsh winds felt like sand pelting his face.

But the winds weakened as the typhoon moved inland towards the northwest, and downgraded to a tropical storm late yesterday, Xinhua reported.

The airport at Fujian's provincial capital, Fuzhou, was closed and flights diverted north to Shanghai or south to Xiamen, the agency said.

More than 300 people trapped in their homes in Cangnan County in Zhejiang were rescued in the aftermath of Haitang, local officials reported last night.

One man was reported dead in Cangnan County, according to officials at the local Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

No other casualty reports were available late last night.

Cangnan was the worst-hit area in the province, with nearly 30,000 people being evacuated before the storm hit.

Some Cangnan County police officers took off their clothes and swam across shoulder-deep floodwaters to reach those who were trapped in floods.

"The police saved my life! All hope of survival was abandoned until the police appeared," said a man surnamed Liu who was rescued from his house encircled by water.

More than 200 millimeters of rain soaked Cangnan, and floodwaters reached more than 1 meter on some streets.

Zhang Binggou of the government office in Cangnan County said the city had suffered blackouts several times, and water supply was cut off in the downtown area.

But even before Haitang pounded ashore, officials in coastal areas reported problems. A landslide closed nine exits of the freeway between Ningbo and Wenzhou.

An avalanche of mud and rock caused by the torrential rain caused traffic on the Cangnan section of the No 104 National Highway to be held up for several hours early yesterday morning.

Several houses along the highway were destroyed, but prompt evacuation prevented any casualties, police said.

Rainstorms also brought about a water level surge in Zhejiang's major rivers.

Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu yesterday urged governments of all the affected coastal provinces to put emergency plans into action against the disastrous weather.

Hui said the governments should make every effort to safeguard lives and must be fully aware of the possible floods and landslides the typhoon could cause.

Haitang, named after a Chinese flower, hammered northern Taiwan on Monday.

In Shanghai, precautions resulted mostly in inconvenience. People were milling around at the Car and Passenger Ferry Wharf in suburban Luchaogang.

Usually there are six ferry crossings a day to and from Shengsi, a popular Zhejiang scenic spot.

Instead, the wharf was ordered closed, leaving about 5,000 ferry passengers going nowhere.

Hotels around the wharf filled up as some non-local passengers had no choice but to wait for the wharf's reopening.

"I came here with my family on Sunday to travel to Shengsi but cannot go now," complained Huang Huilan, a traveller from Jiangxi Province staying at the Lianxin Hotel.

"What's more, we were told we have to stay here for at least three days. Terrible thing!"

Source: China Daily

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