Mon, October 25, 2010
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Typhoon Megi leaves path of chaos

2010-10-25 01:43:58 GMT2010-10-25 09:43:58 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Rescuers search among the muddy, rocky debris on Saturday after a coach carrying mainland tourists on Taiwan's Suao-Hualien Highway was swept away by a landslide. [Photo/Agencies]

XIAMEN, Fujian - Authorities lifted their Typhoon Megi alert on Sunday after wind speeds dropped and it was classified as a tropical depression.

But this year's strongest typhoon left a trail of destruction in its path after it made landfall in Zhangpu, Fujian province, on Saturday.

According to the provincial flood control office, more than 647,900 people and 26,190 hectares of crops were affected by the typhoon, which flattened 500 houses and forced 313,200 people to evacuate their homes.

The typhoon also destroyed more than 2,000 boats, uprooted trees and caused widespread flooding, the office said.

The direct economic cost to the province is estimated at 1.59 billion yuan ($238 million).

In Xiamen city's Xiang'an district, hundreds of fishing boats in Qiongtou village remained moored on Sunday.

"My wooden boat is too old. I'd better not risk fishing today", said 28-year-old Lin Dasheng as he tried to clean up garbage piled up in front of his home by the typhoon.

Although Megi made its landfall 70 kilometers away from where Lin's family have been planting forest since the 1990s, it was still powerful enough to uproot 3-meter-tall trees in the area. Chicken coops and vegetable plots in the area also fell victim to the strong wind and rain.

Despite Megi losing some of its power, the provincial weather bureau forecast that torrential rain will continue to batter the province's central and northern parts.

Fujian flood control headquarters on Sunday asked local authorities to step up monitoring on possible geological hazards and check on dikes, dams, school buildings, roads and bridges.

The Office of State Flood Control and Draught Relief Headquarters on Sunday said on its website that efforts taken to limit Megi's impact were "successful".

No major casualties were reported so far thanks to rigorous preparation in Fujian, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces, it added.

Meanwhile, ferry services linking Xiamen, a coastal business center with the outlying island of Jinmen, resumed Sunday after a two-day suspension that stranded thousands of travelers, the China News Service reported.

Megi had earlier cut a swath of destruction through the Philippines and Taiwan. Landslides and flooding in Taiwan killed as many as 31 people, and at least 28 people died in the northern Philippines.

Families of 19 tourists from Guangdong province, missing in Taiwan after a massive landslide triggered by Megi, had their documents processed on Sunday to travel to the island, after the wreckage of the coach the tourists were traveling in was found.

China News Service reported the coach may have been swept out to sea and divers have been sent to the area.

A green bumper found by rescuers on a mountain slope along the Suao-Hualien Highway on Taiwan's east coast was confirmed by the daughter of the driver as part of the coach, Taiwan media reported on Sunday.

The coach was carrying 16 tourists from Zhuhai, two from Zhanjiang, a mainland tour guide, a Taiwan tour guide and a driver, when the group lost contact on Thursday night.

The 19 from the mainland, 15 women and four men, are aged between 24 and 72, according to the Guangdong provincial tourism administration.

According to media reports, the Taiwan tour guide called the local rescue organization for help on Thursday noon, saying the situation was very dangerous.

That particular stretch of road, on the Suao-Hualien Highway, was washed away.

The first emergency coordination group from Zhuhai, comprising tourism and Taiwan affairs officials, and executives of the China Travel Service branch in Zhuhai rushed to the scene of the accident after they arrived in Taiwan on Saturday.

One other mainland tourist is feared missing on the island, according to reports on Sunday.

More mainland officials arrived in Taiwan on Sunday to coordinate the rescue work and deal with the aftermath.

A total of 274 mainland tourists in 12 groups trapped by the landslide along the Suao-Hualien Highway had been rescued.

Taiwan rescue workers, joined by military personnel and volunteers, continued to search for possible survivors.

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