August 9, 2009 in Nation/World

Typhoon bears down on China

Nearly 1 million evacuated ahead of powerful storm
Annie Huang Associated Press
 

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Typhoon Morakot churned toward China forcing the evacuation of nearly 1 million people today, a day after lashing Taiwan with torrential rains that caused the worst flooding on the island in 50 years.

Twenty-nine people were missing in southern Taiwan, the Disaster Relief Center said, and a woman was killed when her vehicle plunged into a ditch in Kaohsiung county in heavy rain Friday.

Morakot was centered 42 miles off China’s southeastern Fujian province this morning. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said the storm had winds of up to 67 miles per hour.

About 1 million people were evacuated from China’s eastern coastal provinces by early today – more than 470,000 people in Zhejiang and 485,000 others in neighboring Fujian. Authorities in Fujian called 48,000 boats back to harbor.

The meteorological station in eastern Zhejiang issued a typhoon alert and said the storm was likely to make landfall sometime between noon and nighttime, bringing heavy rain to coastal areas.

Morakot hit Taiwan late Friday but traversed the island Saturday and weakened to a tropical storm in the Taiwan Strait. Morakot smashed into the northern Philippines early Friday, triggering floods and landslides that killed at least 12 people.

Several southern Taiwan counties recorded more than 80 inches of rain on Friday and Saturday, the worst flooding to hit the area in half a century, the Central Weather Bureau reported.

Morakot is the first typhoon to hit Taiwan this year. Typhoons frequently move in between July and September, often causing injuries and deaths in mountainous regions prone to landslides and flash floods.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Goni – which made landfall in Guangdong on Wednesday and hit the coastal areas of Hainan on Thursday and Friday – weakened into a tropical depression by today.

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