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Typhoon Rananim kills 115 in Zhejiang
Updated: 2004-08-14 09:56

At least 115 people were killed and more than 1,800 injured when Typhoon Rananim ripped through East China's Zhejiang Province, 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.

Fifteen 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.

More than 300 people were hospitalized and after four hours were still being treated by candle and torchlight.

About 50 people were hurt by falling objects, said one local doctor.

Conscious of a risk of disease, the provincial public health bureau has sent teams of doctors and disinfectants to the area.

If there is a silver lining, it is a slight alleviation of drought and high temperatures in the province.

In Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province, the temperature dropped by nearly 10 C on Friday.

About 10,000 factories in the city of Yiwu were able to resume normal operations as electricity supply recovered on Friday.

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.

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