China's most powerful storm in 50 years killed or left missing almost 150 people in one coastal community in Fujian province , according to officials, but locals believe the death toll in Fuding city could rise sharply in the coming days to as many as 1,000 victims. In one particularly hard-hit area, Fuding's Shacheng township, fishermen were still trying to recover the bodies of dozens of relatives who died when Typhoon Saomai sank hundreds of boats sheltering in Shacheng harbour on Thursday. 'You can hear people crying everywhere near the harbour. Bodies are piled up on the beaches. It's really heartbreaking,' a retired fisherman, who gave his name only as Mr Huang, said yesterday. He said up to 1,000 people from the area could have died. Mr Huang said that he personally knew of at least 20 people from his home town and another 70 in a neighbouring county who had died when Saomai struck. Mr Huang said he had seen more than 20 bodies on the beach near Shacheng harbour, while a friend from neighbouring Longan township had seen many more. 'He and his family were looking for the body of his younger brother. In the space of an hour, they checked more than 70 bodies on the beach but still couldn't find his brother.' The Fuding government put the city's death toll at 41, with another 107 missing and 1,350 injured, Xinhua said. But Mr Huang expected the death toll to be higher because fishermen returned to the water to mend damaged fish farms at around 5.30pm, when they thought the storm was over. 'But they were caught off guard as another, much bigger storm hit the harbour half an hour later,' he said. Destruction in the area was widespread. Xinhua reported that damage to Baisheng village, which has more than 300 households, was extensive. 'Almost the entire village was flattened,' a villager said.