by Staff Writers
Beijing, Beijing (AFP) July 14, 2013
Eastern China was battered Sunday by strong winds and torrential downpours from Typhoon Soulik which left three people dead and forced half a million people to evacuate their homes.
Soulik, which killed two people in Taiwan before barreling towards the mainland, lashed coastal Fujian province with winds of 118 kilometres per hour (73 mph) when it made landfall but had weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland, the China Meteorological Administration said.
Three people were killed in neighbouring Guangdong province according to the official Xinhua news agency where two local meteorological stations reported 250 mm of rain fell in just 20 hours.
The onset of the storm forced hundreds of thousands from their homes across southeast China.
More than half a million people were evacuated from Fujian and neighbouring Zhejiang as the typhoon approached, with 5,500 soldiers deployed to carry out relief work if needed. A further 20,00 people were forced to relocate in Guangdong.
Xinhua news agency said almost 31,000 ships were called back to port and 20 flights cancelled.
Soulik brought torrential rain to Xiamen, with 24 centimetres of rain falling on the port city from Saturday to Sunday.
Rivers swelled beyond warning levels in some areas, and waves up to 10 metres (33 feet) high pounded sea defences in Ningde city.
In Taiwan, two people were killed, one was missing and 104 were injured by the storm, with one town reporting widespread landslides and floodwaters a storey high.
The northern village of Bailan saw the heaviest rain, with 90 centimetres (35 inches) falling in 48 hours, with winds gusting up to 220 kilometres per hour.
While Soulik wrought havoc in Taiwan, tearing roofs from homes and causing landslides that blocked roads, eastern China escaped its full force.
The storm was set to dump up to 18 centimetres of rain on parts of eastern China over 24 hours as it moved further inland, forecasters said.
Downpours have already hit wide swathes of China over the past week, leaving dozens dead in rain-triggered landslides.
Officials were calculating the cost of the storm, with the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou alone facing a direct economic loss of 210 million yuan ($34 million), the agency said.
In Taiwan thousands of soldiers and workers spent Sunday cleaning up, with hundreds of fallen trees being removed in the capital Taipei.
In Puli, a small township in the central Nantou county, dozens of soldiers equipped with trucks and buckets helped residents whose homes were flooded when river banks burst.
Wu Yuan-ming, a township government official, told AFP: "The most difficult part of the work is the removal of the thick mud in the houses and roads. It may take three days to finish the work."
Damage to the agricultural sector was estimated to be Tw$250 million ($8.5 million), according to the government.
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