More than 460,000 people in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces have been forced to evacuate due to Typhoon Sinlaku, which earlier battered Taiwan, leaving four people dead and seven others missing.
The Fujian provincial headquarters for flood control said yesterday morning that close to 230,000 people had been evacuated as of 9 pm Sunday and the evacuation was still under way.
In Zhejiang, 230,000 people have been evacuated and 30,000 fishing boats have been recalled to harbor.
Typhoon Sinlaku weakened into a tropical storm at 8 am yesterday, while its eye was reported to be about 203 km to the southeast of Wenzhou in southeastern Zhejiang and moving northward at a speed of 5 kph, local weather authorities said.
Heavy rains were reported in eastern and northern parts of Zhejiang and central and northern parts of Fujian yesterday morning.
Sinlaku, the 13th tropical storm of the year in China, injured 13 people when it hit northeastern Taiwan on Sunday.
Raging floods and rivers swollen by Sinlaku killed at least four people and left seven others missing and presumed dead in central Taiwan, local authorities said yesterday.
More than 130,000 homes in Taiwan suffered a power blackout, and 800 lost their water supply, which has yet to be reconnected. Thirty-two shelters have been built for 782 typhoon victims, the local authority said.
Work and schools were suspended in 21 counties and cities on the island on Sunday.
Soldiers and rescuers in Taichung county continued to search for five people yesterday, who went missing after a section of a bridge over the Tachia River collapsed on Sunday night.
CTI Cable News reported rescue workers as saying three cars plunged into the river after the water rose too high and washed part of the bridge away. Police recovered one body, identified as a 32-year-old engineer.
Pillars supporting the bridge gave way under pressure from the raging waters, the Apple Daily quoted highway official Chen Chin-yuan as saying.
The accident occurred just as highway maintenance workers were about to close the bridge to traffic, "transport minister" Mao Chih-kuo said yesterday.
Elsewhere in central Taiwan, a driver was killed when his car skidded in heavy rain and crashed into a road railing, and a utility company electrician and a farmer were washed away by floodwaters, the Disaster Relief Center said.
Sinlaku slammed into the northeast coast of Taiwan on Sunday, bringing torrential rain and strong winds to the island. Mountainous regions recorded more than 100 cm of rain, and several large rivers overflowed their banks, forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of people, the disaster center said.
Sinlaku was centered at sea 140 km north of Keelung on the northern tip of Taiwan, moving northeast at a speed of 7 kph as of 8 am Monday, the central weather bureau reported.
It will likely make landfall in southern Japan tomorrow, and may be downgraded from typhoon status, it said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2008)