Chanchu kills 11, heads for Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2006, 12:00am

Fujian caught off guard, keeping schools open in typhoon

Typhoon Chanchu yesterday lashed eastern Guangdong and southern Fujian, killing at least 11 people before heading across the Taiwan Strait, leaving soldiers to rescue thousands.

Fujian bore the brunt of the storm, leaving eight people dead and four missing, and inflicting direct economic losses of 3.8 billion yuan, according to preliminary figures released by the provincial Water Resources Department.

'We are still rescuing people stranded by floods. Soldiers and military police have been called in to help,' a flood and drought control official in Zhangzhou said last night.

Fujian appeared to have been caught off guard, keeping its schools open on Wednesday when neighbouring Guangdong had already closed them after weather forecasters said Chanchu could make landfall in either province before heading back out to sea.

An official in Xiamen said the typhoon affected 6,800 people and forced the closure of 43 factories in the city, causing a total of 62.22 million yuan in economic losses.

The provincial government said 3.15 million people living in 425 towns were affected and 709,000 people had to be evacuated, with losses totalling at least 3.8 billion yuan.

The Guangdong government said it would report damages today, but in Shantou , an official at the flood, typhoon and drought control headquarters said two children died and two elderly people were injured in Chaonan when landslides toppled their homes.

Locally stationed soldiers were helping to rescue people stranded in low-lying areas, he said.

In Shantou, eight people are thought to have died but an official said he could confirm only three dead, the China News Service said.

In Chaozhou , an official said Raoping district had been the worst hit, with electricity cuts and widespread flooding.

Shanwei reported 560,000 people were affected by the typhoon with losses amounting to 188 million yuan as Chanchu blew down 193 houses and damaged 22,000 hectares of farmland, 4,000 hectares of fisheries and 650 hectares of forest along the coast.

In Guangzhou, a 1,000-tonne barge transporting sand that was anchored off Nansha was broken in two by giant waves and sank. Five crew members were rescued.

A Guangdong weather forecaster said the damage from Chanchu were relatively light for a typhoon of its force.

'It was still a strong typhoon, but the damage was relatively small due to government management,' he said.

'The extent of the damage depends on whether information is disseminated early or late and whether preventive measures were implemented.'

The last strong typhoon to hit southern China was Dujuan, which left 32 people dead and 2 billion yuan in damage 2003.