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    115 die in wake of Typhoon Rananim
Bao Daozu
2004-08-14 06:46

A total of 115 people were killed and more than 1,600 injured when Typhoon Rananim ripped through East China's Zhejiang, causing widespread destruction.

One of the strongest storms in years and the 14th this year, the typhoon blasted the city of Wenling on the coast of Zhejiang Province, about 135 kilometres south of Shanghai, at 8 pm on Thursday night.

Sixteen people are still missing and 185 people are seriously injured.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said 8.59 million people have been affected and the damage bill is likely to reach 15.33 billion yuan (US$1.85 billion).

Provincial officials said 42,400 homes were destroyed and 88,000 were damaged, while 271,370 hectares of farmland were ruined. Ten observation posts recorded rainfall of more than 200 millimetres.

The local authority evacuated 410,000 people from the path of the typhoon, many from rural villages.

The typhoon also killed 31,000 heads of livestock.

Rananim is the strongest typhoon in the country since 1997, when Typhoon Winnie killed 236 people and caused US$2.38-billion damage.

One of the worst-hit areas on Thursday was the city of Taizhou, which was plunged into darkness when power lines went down. The city needs at least three days to fully restore power supply, according to the local power provider.

Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu gave warnings to the area ahead of the arrival of the typhoon.

Typhoon moves on

Typhoon Rananim did not pound Shanghai after all, instead heading westwards to the neighbouring Jiangxi Province, where it arrived at about 11 am on Friday.

Shanghai, East China's largest city, had been pre-warned about winds but the typhoon changed track.

By the time it hit Yushan County in the northeast of Jiangxi Province, the typhoon had weakened to a tropical storm, drenching the area, said a local meteorologist.

"The tropical storm is expected to stay in the northern part of the province for the rest of the day and continue to sweep the southwestern part of Anhui Province or the eastern part of Hubei Province on Saturday," said Xu Aihua, forecaster with the Jiangxi Provincial Meteorological Bureau.

Meteorologists have asked residents in Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces to be vigilant against possible landslides, falling rocks and flash floods.

Qin Dahe, director of the China Meteorological Administration, released an emergency warning about Typhoon Rananim for the first time on China Central Television Station on Thursday night.

Rananim means "hello" in the Chuukese language spoken in Micronesia.

(China Daily 08/14/2004 page1)


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