Typhoon forces evacuation of 500,000 in China

Agence France-Presse
(UPDATE) The typhoon was downgraded to a tropical depression at 5:00 am local time as it swept inland, and 'its strength will continue to weaken'

On July 12 at 05:05 UTC (1:05 a.m. EDT) the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this stunning visible image of Tropical Typhoon Soulik approaching Taiwan. Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response

BEIJING, China (UPDATED) – Eastern China was Sunday, July 14, bracing for torrential downpours from Typhoon Soulik which forced the evacuation of half a million people after killing two in Taiwan.

Soulik lashed coastal Fujian province with winds of 118 kilometers per hour (73 miles per hour) when it made landfall but had weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland, the China Meteorological Administration said.

More than half a million people were evacuated from Fujian and neighboring Zhejiang as the typhoon approached, with 5,500 soldiers deployed to carry out relief work if needed.

Xinhua news agency said almost 31,000 ships were called back to port and 20 flights cancelled.

Soulik brought torrential rain to Xiamen, with 24 centimeters of rain falling on the port city from Saturday, July 13, to Sunday.

Rivers swelled beyond warning levels in some areas, and waves up to 10 meters (33 feet) high pounded sea defenses in Ningde city.

In Taiwan, two people were killed, one was missing and 104 were injured by the storm, with one town reporting widespread landslides and floodwaters a storey high.

The northern village of Bailan saw the heaviest rain, with 90 cm (35 in) falling in 48 hours, with winds gusting up to 220 km/h.

While Soulik wrought havoc in Taiwan, tearing roofs from homes and causing landslides that blocked roads, eastern China escaped its full force.

“Billboards have been shattered and trees have been uprooted” but no deaths or injuries were reported, Xinhua said.

The storm was set to dump up to 18 cm of rain on parts of eastern China over 24 hours as it moved further inland, forecasters said.

Downpours have already hit wide swathes of China over the past week, leaving dozens dead in rain-triggered landslides.

Officials were calculating the cost of the storm, with the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou alone facing a direct economic loss of 210 million yuan ($34 million), the agency said. – Rappler.com

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