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Seven Dead As Typhoon Matsa Batters Parts of China

Two people were killed and two others are missing in east China's Zhejiang Province after typhoon Matsa hit early on Saturday morning, the local government confirmed on Sunday.


By 3:00 PM Saturday, the ninth typhoon this year had affected a total of 8.4 million people, toppled 13,108 houses and caused 6.5 billion yuan (US$800 million) in direct economic losses in Zhejiang, the provincial flood control headquarters told Xinhua on Sunday afternoon.


It said the typhoon also destroyed 205,000 hectares of cropland and was estimated to slash grain output by 241,000 tons at least.


Typhoon Matsa, named after a fish found in Laos, shut down nearly 63,500 businesses, damaged roads and destroyed power transmission and communications facilities when it battered the eastern province on Saturday.


The typhoon destroyed 21 reservoirs, 221 kilometers of embankment and damaged a large number of other water resource facilities.


Most parts of the province reported heavy rains from Thursday.


By Sunday morning, about 67 percent of the province had received more than 50 millimeters of rainfall. In Yongjia and Yueqing counties in Wenzhou City, rain volume exceeded 600 millimeters.


Matsa first hit Ganjiang Town in Zhejiang Province at 3:40 AM Saturday, and moved northwest toward six major cities, including the provincial capital Hangzhou.


In Shanghai, which was about 300 kilometers north of the storm center, four people were killed and two injured. Among them, two died from electric shocks yesterday morning while using water-soaked appliances.


The city's two airports, Hongqiao and Pudong, were closed, and most international flights were cancelled until 4 AM yesterday. The nearly 30-hour closure of the airports affected 1,000 flights.


The storm brought the heaviest rain in nine years.


The mass transit Line One metro suspended services for more than four hours yesterday morning as rainwater flooded the system.


The neighboring provinces of Anhui and Jiangsu have beefed up reinforcements along local river dykes and recalled fishing vessels.


In Anhui, Matsa killed one person and has affected the lives of 760,000 people, the provincial flood control authorities said on Sunday.


The typhoon has brought moderate to heavy rain since it hit the southern part of the province at about 10:00 PM Saturday.


Although Matsa typhoon had trailed off into a tropical storm before entering Anhui, the civil affairs department said the situation was severe enough to evacuate 8,600 people and damage 50,000 hectares of cropland, causing 373 million yuan (US$45 million) in direct economic losses.


The high winds and heavy rain also destroyed dykes in Chuzhou City, officials said.


The latest meteorological report said Matsa is moving northwest at a speed of 15 kilometers per hour. High winds and heavy rains will continue to batter Chuzhou, Bengbu and Suzhou cities and areas north of Huaihe River.


Reports from Qingdao said the typhoon had already brought heavy rains and strong winds to the coastal city in east China's Shandong Province. Experts said that the bad weather is expected to continue.


The city has closed its seaside resorts, stopped yachting services and recalled 30,000 fishing vessels.


Further north, the capital city of Beijing has also forecast heavy rain on Sunday night and Monday.


Weather forecasters say there will be storms in Beijing Monday and Tuesday as the capital falls under the influence of the typhoon.


The main thrust of the typhoon is expected to hit Beijing Monday evening and bring storms, especially to the central, western and southern parts of the city, where the rainfall will be over 100 mm.


The rains will be the strongest the capital has seen in recent years in terms of range as well as strength, according to Guo Hu, the director of the Beijing Meteorological Observatory.


Beijing's flood control authorities met on Sunday afternoon to assign flood control work, while reservoirs, rivers and areas around single-storied houses will be closely monitored.


Flights in and out of Beijing Capital Airport were canceled over the weekend. Schedules resumed on Monday although flights to Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai might still be delayed.


(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, CRI.com August 8, 2005)


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