Cadets still missing as storm cleanup begins

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 October, 2005, 12:00am

Thousands of workers have been mobilised to clean up after Typhoon Longwang in Fujian province as the military continued to look for five missing police cadets.

Longwang struck Fuzhou last Sunday, triggering serious flooding in the city and neighbouring areas. More than 3.7 million people were affected and at least 15 civilians killed.

Although the typhoon has long dissipated, China News Service yesterday reported that thousands of volunteers were called in on Friday to clean up the city to prevent disease outbreaks.

Fuzhou city inspectors also examined the water supply fearing contamination. On Thursday, authorities had to send trucks with drinking water for local residents.

Zhuang Zhigang , one of the volunteers, said they had also helped clear the sludge blocking the city's roads.

China News Service reported that all telephone communications in Fuzhou had been restored. Commercial bureau inspectors had also been sent to markets to ensure all meat sold was safe and from reliable suppliers.

Official media said the most severe damage caused by Longwang was when floodwaters inundated a military training school, killing dozens of police cadets.

On Friday, Xinhua reported the recovery of 80 cadets' bodies, but search teams were still looking for at least five still missing. Reports did not identify the school or its location.

It was not clear how many civilians were killed or injured in the deluge. Unconfirmed reports circulated on the internet speculated that there were much higher death tolls. Some suggested more than 100 people died in Qingkou township in Minhou county alone.

Messages posted in online chat rooms described pig carcasses floating in streams and said local governments had imposed a news blackout to hide the severity of the disaster.

Last month, the State Bureau of Secrecy and the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that death tolls from natural disasters would no longer be considered a state secret and casualty figures from past disasters would be published.