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Typhoon Fitow slams into China

Update: October, 07/2013 - 11:45

BEIJING – Typhoon Fitow barrelled into into China's east coast early on Monday, packing winds of more than 200 kilometres an hour as hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated and bullet train services suspended, state media reported.

At least one person was killed, China National Radio (CNR) said in an online report.

Parts of Zhejiang province near the commercial hub Shanghai saw nearly 29 centimetres of rain over 17 hours from Sunday to early Monday, while areas in Fujian to the south saw up to 16 centimetres, the official China News Service said.

One person was reported dead in Wenzhou, a major city in Zhejiang where more than 1,200 homes collapsed CNR said, although it was not clear whether the person died in one of those houses.

Authorities evacuated hundreds of thousands of people and issued China's highest alert on Sunday as Typhoon Fitow approached the mainland.

The National Meteorological Centre issued a red alert for the storm, which was packing winds of up to 151 kilometres an hour late on Sunday night as it moved towards the coast.

Winds rose to 201km per hour in parts of Wenzhou, the official Xinhua news agency reported later, citing local flood control authorities.

Zhejiang has so far evacuated more than 574,000 people, while in Fujian 177,000 have been displaced.

Two port workers in Wenzhou were missing and may have fallen into the sea, the agency added.

"We must not leave anybody in danger," said Li Qiang, Zhejiang's provincial governor.

He urged local authorities to increase inspections of dams and reservoirs as well as safety checks of chemical plants and other important facilities.

The storm also forced the suspension of bullet train services in several cities in Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi provinces.

Wenzhou's airport cancelled 27 flights on Sunday.

Xinhua quoted the weather centre as saying it was unusual for a typhoon to come ashore in China's southeast during October – at the end of the season.

Chinese maritime authorities also issued red alerts, warning of storm tides and waves, with fishermen urged to return to port and local authorities told to prepare harbour facilities and sea walls for high tides.

In Zhejiang more than 35,000 boats returned to harbour while in Fujian nearly 30,000 vessels were called back.

Named after a flower from Micronesia, Fitow has hit just two weeks after Typhoon Usagi wreaked havoc in the region, leaving at least 25 reported dead in southern China.

Fitow, described as the 23rd storm to hit mainland China this year, earlier passed through Japan's southern Okinawan island chain, forcing flight cancellations and causing power outages.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau had issued a warning over the storm on Sunday morning as it surged past the north of the island.

A total of 103 international flights were cancelled in Taiwan territory, while 14 flights were delayed. Seventeen ferry services between Taiwan and offshore islands were also halted. AFP

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