CORRECTED - China braces for typhoon as Taiwan cleans up


  • World
  • Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005

In TAIPEI/BEIJING story headlined "China braces for typhoon as Taiwan cleans up" please read in second paragraph ....gusts of up to 162 km/h.... instead of ....gusts of up to 162 mph.... (corrects windspeed unit) 

A corrected story follows. 

TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Typhoon Haitang swirled towards China's southeast coast on Tuesday after killing up to four people in Taiwan, injuring 29 others and wreaking damage estimated at US$14 million. 

The once super-strong storm had lost some of its power while churning over the island and is now packing maximum windspeeds of 126 km/h (78 mph) and gusts of up to 162 km/h, making it a moderate typhoon, said Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau. 

But the southeastern Chinese provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang were bracing for the worst from the storm expected to make landfall by midday, with more than 850,000 people evacuated from coastal areas, state media said. 

Five thousand armed police were mobilised and reservoirs and dikes were under surveillance, as meteorological bureaus warned of landslides and mud-rock flows. 

Authorities in Fujian and Zhejiang, major rice-growing provinces, had also ordered back to port some 17,000 fishing and merchant ships with a total of more than 300,000 aboard, the official Xinhua news agency reported. 

Ferry services and some flights in the area were cancelled as residents prepared for the onslaught. 

"I stored some water and food after I heard the news," the China Daily quoted Huang Liying, a resident of the Fujian capital Fuzhou, as saying. 

"Who knows whether power and water supplies will be cut off when the typhoon comes?" she said. 

In Taiwan, business resumed on Tuesday with workers clearing away uprooted trees, street signs and billboards toppled by Haitang's lashing winds and heavy rains. The storm shut offices, schools and financial markets in Taiwan on Monday. 

The official death toll from the typhoon stood at two in Taiwan, though the National Fire Agency said it was investigating the cause of death of another two bodies found floating in water. Two more people were listed as missing. 

Weather forecasters said torrential rain would continue to pummel Taiwan through to Wednesday, and warned residents to watch out for flash floods and landslides. Haitang has already dumped more than one metre (over 3 ft) of rain on mountainous areas. 

The Council of Agriculture estimated damage from the storm at least T$454.6 million ($14.2 million). 

Typhoons gather strength from warm sea waters and tend to dissipate after making landfall. They frequently hit Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and southern China during a season that starts in early summer and lasts until late autumn. 

In 2001, one of Taiwan's deadliest years for storms, Typhoon Toraji killed 200 people. In China, last year's Typhoon Rananim killed 164 and caused more than $2 billion in economic losses. 

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