A million flee as typhoon hits China

Typhoon Aere crashed into mainland China, unleashing torrential rains and prompting the evacuation of nearly a million people as the death toll climbed to 35 on Thursday after a mudslide killed 15 villagers in Taiwan.

Aere came ashore on the mainland late on Wednesday after battering northern Taiwan, where up to 1,5m of rain fell over the past two-and-a-half days in some areas. State television in China showed footage of howling winds and pounding rain. Cars plowed through flooded streets littered with uprooted metal barriers.

Officials in Taiwan said the mudslide in a remote northern mountain village buried all of the homes in just 10 seconds, killing 15.
The island’s death toll rose to 30 after officials reported a man died when floodwaters washed away his riverside home in central Taiwan.

Another five people were reported dead in the Philippines.

Apart from one man reported missing in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, no casualties were reported on the mainland. It was the second-strongest storm to hit China this season after Typhoon Rananim, which killed 164 people and devastated the southern Chinese coast.

Two cargo vessels carrying 16 crew members were stranded on Thursday on a shoal about 100m offshore from Wenzhou city, in east China’s Zhejiang province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Deterred by strong winds, rescuers were waiting for high tide, at about dusk, to try to reach the boats, it said.

Authorities credited the minimal casualties from this week’s storm to the evacuation of 930 000 people from low-lying and coastal areas. More than 40 000 fishing boats were called back to port and flights in the region were canceled, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It cited local officials saying that while destructive, the storm has helped ease a severe drought in the area.

The typhoon’s greatest destruction was in Taiwan. Rescuers were struggling on Thursday to reach the isolated village in north after the landslide swept over 24 homes, an official said.

“It occurred when the downpour was most severe yesterday, and the landslide buried all of the homes in just 10 seconds,” Hsinchu County chief Cheng Yung-chin told reporters after inspecting the site in Wufeng Township.

Helicopters were dispatched to airlift food and water to about 800 residents trapped at Wufeng and the nearby town of Janshih, where roads were cut off, officials said.

Agricultural damage was officially estimated at 7,7 million New Taiwan dollars ($220 000).

The storm also caused heavy rains that swamped parts of the Philippine capital, Manila, where at least five people drowned and three were missing. Three members of a family were injured after being hit by a mudslide in the hilly city of Antipolo.

Philippine officials suspended work in government offices and cancelled school for a second day on Thursday due to heavy rains.

Nearly 16 000 people were evacuated from homes engulfed in floodwaters, the officials said.

A swollen river near the northern province of Nueva Ecija blocked traffic on a main road and stranded hundreds of commuters overnight, they reported.

Aere means “storm” in the language of the Marshall Islands.

Another typhoon building up

Meanwhile, on Thursday, a massive storm named Typhoon Chaba was building up in the western Pacific and forecast to hit the southern Japanese islands of Kyushu by Sunday or Monday.

In north-east China, heavy seasonal rains prompted a flood alert in areas of Shandong province along the Yellow River, Xinhua reported.

Xiaolangdi, a major reservoir along the notoriously flood-prone river, opened its sluice gate to release extra water from downpours during the past week, the report said. Local authorities were ordered to step up patrols along dams and dikes.—Sapa-AP

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