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Morakot weakens, leaving trail of destruction
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Typhoon Morakot weakened to become a tropical storm early Monday after a powerful landing in east China Sunday, causing heavy flooding and grave losses along in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.

The Zhejiang Meteorological Station announced Monday that Morakot, the eighth and the strongest typhoon in China this year, was slowing and weakening as it is moved northwestward, bringing heavy rain to northern Zhejiang.

In Xiapu, the typhoon's landing point, at least 136,000 people suffered property losses from flooding and landslides caused by Morakot, which packed winds up to 118 km per hour on its arrival.

Zhang Changjian, deputy county head and director of the county's flood control and drought relief headquarters, said the county's agriculture and fishery industries had been severely battered, with direct losses estimated at 200 million yuan (29 million U.S. dollars).

He said 14 township were flooded, and eight roads were blocked by floods and landslides.

Xie Xiaoping, manager of the Xiapu Power Co. Ltd., said staff had been working around the clock to ensure power supplies, but some villages saw short blackouts.

A total of 155 passenger vessel sailings were cancelled and more than 48,000 vessels were recalled to port in Fujian, where 505,000 people were evacuated from their homes as authorities raised the typhoon alarm to a red alert, its highest level, Sunday.

Wenzhou City, in Zhejiang, reported the first death in the typhoon on Sunday after three adults and a 4-year-old boy were buried when the torrential rain brought five houses down. After they were rescued, the boy died, according to the city's flood-control headquarters.

In Zhejiang, more than 3.4 million people suffered property losses as hundreds of villages were flooded and more than 1,800 houses collapsed, according to the Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

In Cangnan, one of 20 flooded counties in Zhejiang, vehicles left parked on main roads were submerged in a meter of water.

The National Meteorological Center said violent rainstorms would continue in south Jiangsu, southeast Anhui, northeast Jiangxi, Shanghai, most parts of Zhejiang and Fujian, and Taiwan over Monday.

The center issued the highest alert at 6 p.m. Sunday in response to expected rainstorms in these regions, advising people to stop work outdoors, and urging authorities to clear drainage channels in cities and villages.

The center also warned of possible flooding near Taihu Lake, Jiangsu Province, as downpours reached 100 to 130 mm.

The West Lake in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, was closed Sunday, and navigation along the Qiantang River, one of its tributaries, stopped.


Typhoon Morakot also brought great losses to Taiwan. According to the island's disaster response center, Morakot had killed 12 people and injured 52, while 32 were still missing as of Monday.

Taiwan's meteorological department lifted the typhoon alert at 10 a.m., but continued to forecast rainstorms in the area south of Miaoli County.

Although typhoon Morakot has left Taiwan, the weather conditions on Monday remained unstable and some mountainous areas might have very heavy rainstorms, landslide and flooding, the forecast said.

The mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) expressed sympathy to the Taiwan people who suffered from the typhoon via the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

The mainland was deeply concerned with the great losses in Taiwan and conveyed condolences and hoped the Taiwan people could resume normal living and working conditions as soon as possible, said a letter from the ARATS to the SEF on Monday.

(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2009)

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