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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Scores killed by typhoon in China
Typhoon Rananim is said to be China's worst storm since 1997
A powerful typhoon has struck eastern China, killing at least 115 people.

More than 1,800 others are reported to have been injured after the typhoon hit the coastal city of Wenling, in Zhejiang province.

Officials had already evacuated 415,000 people from coastal areas to escape the storm, which happened at 8pm local time (1200GMT) on Thursday.

"Shop signboards were flying out and hit people's arms and legs like knives," said a doctor in Wenling.

"The wind was really very, very strong and we have rarely seen this," he said.

Flood warning

Pan Jinsong, from the Zhejiang Meteorological Observatory, told AFP news agency Typhoon Rananim was thought to be the worst storm in China since 1997, when 236 people were killed.

Most people were killed this time by collapsing buildings. More than 40,000 houses have been destroyed and 90,000 more damaged.

Rananim has now been down-graded to a tropical storm, although it was still blowing at force nine as it moved west into Jiangxi and Hunan provinces.

"The dangerous period had passed. Today the wind speed has reduced a lot but it is still blowing, it is still raining," said an official at the Zhejiang anti-flood and drought headquarters.

"Today's situation is better but it's not over yet."

Typhoon Ranamin had headed north-west from Taiwan, where it killed one road worker.

China's civil affairs ministry estimated direct economic losses of 15.33bn yuan ($1.85bn) and that 271,00 hectares (677,500 acres) of crops had been damaged.

More than 650 people have been killed this year by natural disasters in China, which have cost more than $4bn in damage, according to official figures.

The north of China has suffered severe droughts, while heavy rains have caused flooding in southern and central areas.

The BBC's Chris Hogg
"The cost of damage wrought by this storm has been estimated at almost $2bn"

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