Typhoon whacks southern China, leaving at least 27 dead, 116 injured
SHENZHEN, China (AFP) Sep 03, 2003
At least 27 people were killed and 116 injured as Typhoon Dujuan slammed into southern China leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, officials said Wednesday.

The powerful storm pounded heavily populated Guangdong province with gale force winds and torrential rains, touching down in Gangkou town around 7:50 pm (1150 GMT) Tuesday, the Xinhua news agency said.

It swept through several cities in Guangdong, including the capital Guangzhou as well as the economic boom town Shenzhen, and the cities of Shantou and Shanwei, destroying thousands of houses.

Local officials said Wednesday they were still struggling to determine the extent of the damage, but information gathered so far reveals an extensive impact.

In Shenzhen, the hardest-hit city, 20 people were killed, including 16 migrant workers who were building a factory on a construction site where several buildings collapsed, according to the Shenzhennews.com website and the Xinhua news agency website.

Twenty other workers on the site were injured.

Altogether, a total of 98 people were injured in Shenzhen, 20 seriously injured and 78 slightly, said the websites, adding that two others were missing.

The typhoon was the worst to hit Shenzhen since 1979, the Shenzhen website said.

Some 4,000 people had to be evacuated from unsafe homes, prompting the civil affairs department to open 272 emergency shelters, which housed nearly 5,000 people including evacuees and those whose homes collapsed, the website said.

More than 6,000 trees were uprooted and many electricity poles were knocked down, causing two districts in Shenzhen to suffer power outages.

Seventy flights in the city were cancelled.

In other parts of Guangdong province, seven more people were killed and another 18 injured.

Of the casualties outside Shenzhen, four of the dead and seven of the injured were in Huizhou city -- where the town that the typhoon touched down on is located, according to the China News Service (CNS) website.

CNS said the city suffered "serious economic losses" in the typhoon.

Two others died and 11 were injured in Shanwei city, including a six-year-old child crushed by a falling ceiling.

"Some 1,500 houses have collapsed. Another 5,000 houses were damaged," said an official surnamed Peng from Shanwei city's disaster relief office.

"The typhoon knocked out water and electricity supplies last night, but today supplies have been restored."

The other death was reported in the Guangdong capital Guangzhou, where a man watching TV in his work shed was killed when the roof came crashing down on him, an official surnamed Zhou from the Guangzhou disaster relief section told AFP.

Strong winds from the typhoon also lashed neighboring Fujian province's Fuzhou city, but details of damage were not immediately available.

On Tuesday, fears of the typhoon's arrival shut down businesses and schools in Hong Kong, sending residents scrambling for shelter, after the storm lashed Taiwan, leaving two feared dead and causing a major blackout on the island.

Hong Kong was spared a direct hit by Dujuan, but the storm brought heavy rains and powerful winds, injuring 22 people.

Packing winds of 43 meters per second, it also caused massive disruption at Hong Kong's airport, where officials said 151 flights were cancelled and another 115 were delayed.

All land and sea transport resumed on Wednesday, as schools and offices opened with people heading to work through streets strewn with debris of broken umbrellas and tree branches.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, Dujuan has weakened into a tropical depression and at 11 am (0400 GMT) was centered in southwestern China's Guangxi province and is expected to weaken further as it moves west.