Deadly Typhoon Hits China, Forces Evacuation

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The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of Typhoon Soulik on July 12, 2013. The storm was moving west across the Pacific Ocean on course to strike Taiwan and China.
LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

Eastern China was Sunday bracing for torrential downpours from Typhoon Soulik which forced the evacuation of half a million people after killing two in Taiwan.

Hurricane destruction can shed light on what made an area so vulnerable in the first place.
NASA/Science Faction/Getty Images

Soulik lashed coastal Fujian province with winds of 118 kilometers per hour (73 mph) 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.

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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 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.

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The northern village of Bailan saw the heaviest rain, with 90 centimeters (35 inches) falling in 48 hours, with winds gusting up to 220 kilometers per hour.

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 centimeters of rain on parts of eastern China over 24 hours as it moved further inland, forecasters said.

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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.

In Taiwan thousands of soldiers and workers spent Sunday cleaning up , with hundreds of fallen trees being removed in the capital Taipei.

In Puli, a small township in the central Nantou county, dozens of soldiers equipped with trucks and buckets helped residents whose homes were flooded when river banks burst.

Wu Yuan-ming, a township government official, told AFP: "The most difficult part of the work is the removal of the thick mud in the houses and roads. It may take three days to finish the work."

Damage to the agricultural sector was estimated to be Tw$250 million ($8.5 million), according to the government.