Typhoon Drives One Million Chinese From Homes
Beijing, China
19 August 2007 08:45

Typhoon Sepat swept China's southern coast on Sunday, forcing almost a million people from their homes and spawning a tornado that smashed buildings and killed at least nine people.

The tornado cut a corridor of destruction 800m wide, wrecked 156 houses and injured more than 60 residents in Zhejiang province, Xinhua state news agency reported. Experts believe the tornado was formed under the influence of the typhoon, Xinhua said.

"The bizarre wind smashed all the windows of our four-storey building and tore down my mum's old house in no more than one minute," the agency quoted villager Zhang Zhongling (48) as saying. "Just like a hurricane."

In southern Fujian province, two people were confirmed dead and another reported missing after Typhoon Sepat triggered flooding and mudslides. The storm landed in Fujian overnight packing winds of 119km/h, Xinhua said.

The typhoon lost power after making landfall, but still left a trail of damage, flooding roads, lifting roofs off houses and uprooting trees and billboards, Xinhua quoted a local flood-control official as saying.

A six-car goods train was derailed west of the provincial capital of Fuzhou after a portion of track was swept away. No injuries were reported and workers restored the line, the agency said.

Sepat is heading north-west toward Jiangxi province and could unleash 400mm of rain in southern Fujian province in the next three days, said Xinhua.

More than 900 000 people in southern China had been relocated to higher ground after the typhoon cut power and flooded homes in parts of Taiwan and the Philippines on Saturday.

The typhoon did not make landfall over the Philippines, but exacerbated monsoon rains as it rumbled past the archipelago. Disaster officials in the Philippines said three people drowned in flooding. Nearly 550 000 people were affected by flood waters in Manila and the northern provinces, and more than 3 500 people were sheltering in evacuation centres.

Parts of the capital and surrounding provinces remained under water on Sunday.

Taiwan's disaster centre said 27 people had been hurt in the typhoon. About 2 500 people were evacuated and nearly 9 000 homes were still without electricity.

The storm had cut power to more than 70 000 homes in Taiwan and forced airlines to delay flights from airports in the north and south of the island. -- Reuters, AFP

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