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Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Chinese typhoon toll passes 250
A destroyed house in Cangnan county
Dozens of people were killed when houses collapsed
Typhoon Saomai, the most powerful storm to hit China in 50 years, killed at least 255 people as it tore through the country's south-east, state media said.

Another 160 people are still missing in the three provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangxi, Xinhua news agency said.

In Fujian's Fuding city 138 people were killed, mostly fishermen who stayed on their boats during last week's storm.

Saomai, which brought high winds and torrential rain, was the eighth typhoon to hit China this season.

Many of the Fuding deaths occurred in Shacheng town, after some fishermen chose to remain on their boats during the storm, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The wind was so strong that it overturned many ships and a large number of people were killed or went missing," Xinhua said.

Boats tied up in Chixi town in Cangnan county
Many fishermen chose to remain on their boats

By Sunday, 97 bodies had been found in the town, the agency said.

A Shacheng resident told the AFP news agency that people were renting boats to search for their relatives.

"They sail up to each body and turn it around in the water and see if they recognize the face," she said.

Collapsed

Shacheng borders Zhejiang's Cangnan county, where Typhoon Saomai made landfall on Thursday evening.

Forty-three people died there, including 41 who were killed when concrete structures they were sheltering in collapsed.

One man said he had lost eight members of his family.

map

"After some houses collapsed, we called the police and they told us to go to a newer concrete building," said the man, who gave only his surname, Yang.

"When that building fell in, whole families died," he told Reuters news agency.

The storm caused damage of at least $1.4bn (760m), according to officials and destroyed more than 50,000 houses. Some 20,000 soldiers and paramilitary police have been mobilised to help with the clear up.

Saomai, which is the Vietnamese for morning star, is the eighth powerful storm to hit China this year.

Typhoon Prapiroon killed about 80 people. Tropical Storm Bilis killed more than 600 in July.

Typhoons and tropical storms are common in the region between July and October, but this year they have been unusually frequent.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the devastation caused by the typhoon



SEE ALSO
Animated guide: Typhoon
25 Aug 05 |  Science/Nature
Typhoon toll rises in south China
27 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
China deaths spark cover-up claim
22 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese storm kills more than 180
18 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: China
24 May 06 |  Country profiles

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