China: Typhoon Saomai causes casualties, while drought raises drinking water concerns

from Xinhua
Published on 11 Aug 2006
BEIJING, Aug 11, 2006 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The death toll from Typhoon Saomai, the strongest to hit China in half a century and now a tropical depression, has risen to 105, with at least 190 others missing, as of 11:00 p.m. Friday, say local authorities.
East China's Jiangxi Province reported one death and two injuries in its capital Nanchang's Jinxian County on Friday evening.

Though weakened on Friday, Saomai brought torrential rain to 50 counties in Jiangxi.

In Fujian Province, the precipitation in Linchuan District of the provincial capital Fuzhou alone amounted to 105 millimeters in one hour.

Saomai affected about 310,000 people in Fuzhou City and caused losses worth at least 200 million yuan (about 25 million U.S. dollars), said the city's government source.

Six people in Lishui City in east China's Zhejiang Province were killed in a landslide that was triggered by torrential rain, said Xiao Jianzhong, vice mayor of Lishui.

Eighty-one people are dead and 11 are reported missing in Wenzhou, a booming port city of more than 1 million people which received the brunt of the typhoon.

At least 2.1 million people had been affected and 18,000 houses have been destroyed in Zhejiang. The downpour has swamped 56 provincial roads and national highways.

In Zhejiang, the typhoon caused an economic loss of 4.89 billion yuan (611 million U.S. dollars). The number of people with their houses being destroyed has not yet been estimated.

Fujian Province reported 17 deaths and 138 missing. More than 1.45 million people have been affected and 32,700 houses were destroyed.

The typhoon also damaged 68,800 hectares of crops, shut 234 factories and mines, resulting in a direct economic loss of 6.36 billion yuan (795 million U.S. dollars) in the province.

Saomai, the eighth typhoon in China this year, slammed into Cangnan County of Wenzhou City at 5:25 p.m. Thursday. It was downgraded to a tropical depression by 11 a.m. Friday.

Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, who is also Chief of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, urged governments to make the safety of people their top priority and work to reduce casualties and economic losses.

He urged local governments to prevent more floods and landslides, restore electricity and communication links and open roads as soon as possible.

The Vice Premier is on a visit to southwest China's Sichuan Province where about 11.3 million people are being affected by drought. A shortage of potable water is causing concern and direct economic losses stand at 6.7 billion yuan (844 million U.S. dollars).

Hui Liangyu noted that relief work for both victims of Saomai-hit areas and drought-plagued regions should receive equal treatment. He urged local officials to spare no effort to ensure a supply of drinking water.

According to the China Meteorological Administration, drought in southwest and northwest China will continue in the coming weeks, while Saomai will continue dumping heavy rains in south and east China, especially in Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan, Hubei and Jiangsu Provinces.