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At Least 77 Killed by Prapiroon
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At least 77 people have died as a result of tropical storm Prapiroon as of yesterday in south China's Guangdong Province and the neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, despite the early relocation of more than 660,000 people from the threatened areas, Xinhua News Agency reported.


The latest casualties are from Guangxi where Prapiroon has continued to cause damage despite weakening from typhoon to tropical storm strength. Prapiroon has caused flash floods and landslides and razed houses killing 26 in Guangxi, Xinhua said.


The Guangxi civil affairs department said Prapiroon affected 5.1 million people in the region, destroying 9,300 houses and crops on 195,900 hectares of farmland.


Prapiroon made landfall at the south China coastal area in western Guangdong on Thursday leaving at least 51 dead in that province alone.


As the sixth typhoon of the year Prapiroon brought strong winds and torrential rains in Guangdong with Taishan, Enping, and Yangchun being worst hit. Over 3.70 million people were affected and 7,000 houses razed. Direct economic losses are forecast at 2.4 billion yuan (US$300 million).


Last month China witnessed the worst natural calamities this year. They left 918 dead, 310 missing and a direct economic loss of around 68.8 billion yuan (US$8.6 billion). These figures come from a conference Thursday of multiple ministries reporting and summarizing natural disasters in July.


Bilis, the fourth typhoon in this storm season, brought the most fatalities with 637 dead and 210 missing. Typhoon-induced flash floods, landslides and mud-rock flows in 20 provinces and autonomous regions were blamed for many of the casualties, said Chen Hongling of the Ministry of Civil Affairs at the conference.


A 370-year-old castle in east China's Fujian Province collapsed after being hit by typhoons which have repeatedly swept the area over the past three months.


Nine houses in the Caipu Castle, in Fujian's Yunxiao County, collapsed after being soaked in floodwaters for weeks while more than 200 square meters of the outer castle wall collapsed, a county cultural official said yesterday. "Fortunately nobody was injured or killed," said Tang Yuxian, curator of the county museum.


The castle moat has often flooded the castle since mid-May when typhoon Chanchu lashed southern and eastern China. Bilis and Kaemi followed which resulted in floods and landslides killing hundreds of people.


More than 200 families live in the castle which is 500 meters in circumference. It was built in 1636 and was the only round castle made of a mixture of lime, clay and sand which still existed in Fujian, said Tang.


In contrast to the rising water levels, Sichuan, Hubei and Guizhou provinces are suffering from serious drought.


This month will likely see another two or three tropical storms hitting China, said Chen Yu, senior engineer from China Meteorological Administration.


China has experienced its worst and most severe geological calamities of the year in July, according to Tang Can, senior engineer from the Ministry of Land and Resources. Statistics show that more than 80,000 earthquakes occurred last month causing 259 deaths with 75 people missing.


The most serious tremor, measuring 5.1 on the Richer scale, resulted in 22 deaths in Yunnan Province.


(China Daily August 7, 2006)

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