Storm lashes east with rain and wind

Typhoon brings torrential downpours as it moves inland, weakens after killing 2 in Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 July, 2013, 1:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

The nation's east was lashed yesterday by torrential downpours from Typhoon Soulik, which forced the evacuation of half a million people after killing two people in Taiwan.

Soulik whipped coastal Fujian with winds of 118km/h when it made landfall on Saturday but weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland, reaching Jiangxi province early yesterday, the China Meteorological Administration said.

More than half a million people were evacuated from Fujian and Zhejiang as Soulik approached, with 5,500 soldiers poised to carry out relief work.

Xinhua said almost 31,000 ships were called back to port and 20 flights cancelled.

The port city of Xiamen received 240mm of rain over the weekend. Rivers swelled beyond warning levels in some areas, and waves of up to 10 metres pounded sea defences in the city of Ningde .

The seventh storm to hit the mainland this year, Soulik entered Jiangxi at about 4am, bringing up to 200mm of rain within five hours and winds of 65km/h, local authorities said.

In Taiwan, two people were killed, one was missing and 104 people were injured by the typhoon, with one town reporting widespread landslides and floodwaters a storey high.

The northern village of Bailan saw the heaviest rain, with 900mm falling in 48 hours, and winds gusting at up to 220km/h.

The mainland escaped the full force of Soulik. "Billboards have been shattered and trees have been uprooted" but no deaths or injuries were reported, Xinhua said.

The storm was set to dump up to 180mm of rain on parts of the east over 24 hours as it moved further inland, forecasters said.

Downpours have already hit wide swathes of the country over the past week, leaving dozens dead in rain-triggered landslides.

Officials counting the cost of the storm put direct economic losses for the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou alone at 210 million yuan (HK$263 million).

In Taiwan soldiers and workers spent yesterday cleaning up, with hundreds of fallen trees being removed in Taipei.

Agricultural damage was estimated to be NT$250 million (HK$65 million), the government said.