Typhoon Saomai Kills 214; $1.4 Billion Damage Estimated

August 14, 2006

Authorities now put the death toll from Typhoon Saomai, which struck the southeastern coast of China last week, at 214.

The storm, which came ashore near Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province on Thursday, Aug. 10, packed winds in excess of 200 kms/hr (120 mph) and very heavy rainfall. A number of people are still missing and an estimated 50,000 houses have been destroyed in two provinces, according to local news reports. Roads, bridges, power lines and other infrastructure also suffered a great deal of damage.

Most of the deaths were caused by building collapses, as people sought shelter from the storm, but a number of fishing boats and their crews were also lost in the heavy seas. Preliminary damage estimates indicate Saomai’s passage caused some $1.4 billion in property losses, most of which were not insured.

Chinese authorities have mobilized more than 20,000 soldiers and paramilitary police to assist rescue workers in the search for survivors and victims and to assist in cleaning up the debris and restoring services.

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