Typhoon Lekima death toll in eastern China rises to 32

SHANGHAI (AFP) – The death toll from Typhoon Lekima rose to 32 in eastern China, local authorities said yesterday, as rescue teams worked to find more than a dozen people still missing after the storm triggered a landslide and forced the evacuation of more than a million residents.

The monster storm hit Wenling city early last Saturday, packing winds of nearly 190 kilometres per hour and generating waves several metres high along the coast.

At least 18 people were killed in a landslide triggered by torrential downpours in the municipality of Wenzhou, around 400 kilometres south of Shanghai, national broadcaster CCTV said last Saturday.

A further 14 deaths were announced yesterday, but it was unclear if they were from the same incident.

Sixteen people were still missing, according to Zhejiang provincial authorities.

“Currently, search and rescue work from various regions is still ongoing,” they said on social media platform Weibo.

Rescuers and paramilitary police officers search in the rubble of damaged buildings after torrential rain caused by Typhoon Lekim, at Yongjia in Wenzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. – AFP

More than a million people were evacuated from their homes ahead of the typhoon, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Some 110,000 people were housed in shelters.

According to authorities, the natural disaster has caused economic losses of more than CNY15.8 billion (USD2.2 billion).

In Linhai city alone, losses amounted to around CNY2.1 billion (USD300 million), which included 183 collapsed houses and more than 600 damaged roads.

On Sunday, footage from CCTV showed rescue workers on boats navigating through Linhai, where streets were submerged in muddy water.

Local media reports also showed teams pulling stranded people from bright orange inflatable boats, with skies starting to clear as the storm moved further up the coast.

Lekima had crossed into Jiangsu province north of Shanghai and was expected to hit Shandong province later yesterday, CCTV reported. Both provinces have already issued a red alert for torrential rain.

More than 3,200 flights have been cancelled due to the typhoon, the state broadcaster reported, as Shanghai, Beijing and other cities grounded planes.