BEIJING, (AP) – A typhoon pummeled China’s eastern coast Sunday, toppling houses, flooding villages and forcing nearly a million people to flee to safety. Officials rode bicycles to distribute food to residents trapped by rising waters.
Typhoon Morakot struck after triggering the worst flooding in Taiwan 50 years, leaving dozens missing and feared dead and toppling a six-story hotel. It earlier lashed the Philippines, killing at least 21 people.
Morakot, which means “emerald” in Thai, made landfall in China’s eastern Fujian province, carrying heavy rain and winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, according the China Meteorological Administration. At least one child died after a house collapsed on him in Zhejiang province.
People stumbled with flashlights as the storm enveloped the town of Beibi in Fujian in darkness, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Strong winds uprooted trees or snapped them apart, while farmers tried to catch fish swept out of fish farms by high waves.
Village officials in Zhejiang rode bicycles to hand out drinking water and instant noodles to residents stranded by deep floods, while rescuers tried to reach eight sailors on a cargo ship blown onto a reef off Fujian, Xinhua reported.
Morakot was expected to weaken as it traveled north at about six miles (10 kilometers) per hour, but still bring strong winds and heavy rains to Shanghai, the meteorological administration said.
Flood control officials in Shanghai released water stored in inland rivers to reduce levels in preparation, Xinhua said.
About 1 million people were evacuated from China’s eastern coastal provinces — more than 490,000 in Zhejiang and 505,000 in neighboring Fujian. Authorities in Fujian called 48,000 boats back to harbor.
Five houses were destroyed by heavy rain ahead of the typhoon’s landfall, burying four adults and a 4-year-old boy in debris, Xinhua said. The child died after emergency treatment failed, it said.
Another 300 houses collapsed and thousands of acres (hectares) of farmland were inundated, Xinhua said.
Dozens of domestic flights were canceled and delayed in Fujian and Zhejiang, and bus service in Fujian’s capital, Fuzhou, was suspended, it said.
Taiwan, meanwhile, was recovering after the storm dumped more than 80 inches (200 centimeters) of rain on some southern counties Friday and Saturday, the worst flooding to hit the area in half a century, the Central Weather Bureau reported.
Taiwan’s Disaster Relief Center said a woman was killed when her vehicle plunged into a ditch in Kaohsiung county in heavy rain Friday, and two men drowned in Pingtung and Tainan. It said 31 were missing and feared dead.
Morakot hit Taiwan late Friday and crossed the island Saturday. The Disaster Relief Center reported Sunday that flash floods washed away a home in southern Kaohsiung, leaving 16 people missing. Three were swept away in southeastern Taitung county, including two policemen helping to evacuate villagers.
Twelve others were missing, including three fishermen from a capsized boat and three others whose cars fell into a rain-swollen river, it said.
In southern Pingtung county, 4,000 people were stranded in inundated villages waiting for police boats to rescue them, news media reported.
In Taitung county, a six-story hotel collapsed and plunged into a river after floodwaters eroded its base, but all 300 people inside were evacuated and uninjured, officials said.
In the northern Philippines, the typhoon and lingering monsoon rains left 21 people dead and seven others missing in landslides and floodwaters, including three European tourists who were swept away Thursday, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said Sunday.
The bodies of the Belgian and two French citizens were found Friday, the council said.
Meanwhile, Xinhua said three fishermen died and 26 others were missing from Tropical Storm Goni, which hit Guangdong on Wednesday but weakened into a tropical depression by Sunday. Helicopters and ships were searching for the missing crew.