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Typhoon Saomai - 98 Dead, 149 Missing
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The most powerful storm to hit the Chinese mainland in 50 years, Typhoon Saomai, has left at least 98 people dead and 149 missing in east China, according to local government sources.

Eighty-one of the dead and 11 of the missing were in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, where 2.1 million people were affected and 18,000 houses were destroyed, said the civil affairs bureau of Wenzhou on Friday.

Seventeen of the dead and 138 of the missing were in Fujian Province, said the flood control office of Fujian. More than 1.4 million people were affected by the typhoon and 32,000 houses were destroyed in Fujian.

Saomai, the eighth typhoon to hit China this year, hit Cangnan County of Wenzhou City at 5:25 PM Thursday with wind speeds of 216 km per hour and bringing with it torrential rains and powerful winds.

Emergency relief materials worth 500,000 yuan (US$62,500), including quilts and medicine, were sent on Friday to Cangnan from Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, said the provincial Red Cross Society.

Typhoon Saomai also brought heavy rains and winds of up to 270 km per hour in coastal and inland areas of neighboring Fujian Province. Rainfall in parts of the province exceeded 200 mm in 24 hours, according to the provincial meteorological observatory.

More than 10,000 houses were destroyed and 80,000 others were damaged in Fuding, said the official. Power was largely cut off in Fuding, Xiapu, Zherong, Fu'an and Ningde. Twelve people in two vessels from Taiwan Province and a fishing boat from Fujian have been rescued by local maritime workers, said the provincial flood control office. They had been reported missing after failing to anchor in Fuding because of high winds.

The provincial government has allocated 2 million yuan (US$250,000) in cash and a batch of disaster relief materials, including 1,500 tens, 3,000 quilts and 50,000 pieces of clothes to Saomai-hit areas.

Typhoon Saomai had weakened into a tropical depression by 9 AM Friday. Its center was over Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province, at 10 AM and it was continuing to lose force, said the provincial meteorological observatory.

(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2006)

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