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Weakened Typhoon Wipha Drenches Eastern China

Date: 20-Sep-07
Country: CHINA

The storm toppled thousands of homes and knocked out power
and water supplies as it swept ashore, state media said.

Five people were killed, mostly by landslides, and three
more were missing, Xinhau news agency said.

About 2.7 million people were evacuated in eastern China,
including the financial hub Shanghai ahead of its landfall early
Wednesday morning.

Torrential rains drenched Zhejiang and parts of the
neighbouring provinces of Fujian, Anhui and Jiangsu, submerging
crops, houses and streets.

Wipha grazed northern Taiwan and triggered floodwaters in
Japan's southern islands, sweeping away at least two people and
forcing thousands to flee.

In Zhejiang, Wipha cut off power in nearly 1,900 villages,
destroyed almost 2,500 houses, flooded 160,000 hectares of
farmland and severed 239 roads, affecting 6 million people,
Xinhua said.

The storm caused estimated economic losses of 6.6 billion
yuan (US$878.2 million) in Zhejiang and Fujian, as rivers and
reservoirs overflowed. Thousands of dyke breaches were reported,
Xinhua said.

Dozens of flights to and from the Wenzhou airport were
cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But Wipha, a female name in Thai, weakened into a tropical
storm after hitting land. It mostly missed Shanghai as it headed
north toward Jiangsu province.

One man was electrocuted in Shanghai ahead of the storm on
Tuesday, local media said. Schools were closed on Wednesday in
Shanghai and most of Zhejiang.

Wipha landed just where Super Typhoon Saomai, the strongest
China had seen in 50 years, hit last year, killing hundreds in
Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.

The densely populated area is home to many small businesses
and factories, with a mixture of modern buildings and older
brick homes. Some 50,000 Zhejiang factories on the path of Wipha
were forced to halt production, Xinhua said.

"The wind was not as strong as Saomai, but it lasted
longer," an official from Xiaguan township, where Wipha made
landfall, told Reuters by telephone.

Typhoons regularly hit China, Taiwan, the Philippines and
Japan in the summer months, gathering strength from warm sea
waters before weakening over land.

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