May 18, 2006

Typhoon Chanchu kills 16 in China

BEIJING (Reuters) - A typhoon that battered south and east China has killed 16 people and left four missing, state media said on Friday.

Typhoon Chanchu, which brought heavy rain and winds up to 170 km per hour (106 miles per hour), made landfall between the cities of Shantou and Xiamen and worked its way up the coast early on Thursday.

Eight people died in Guangdong province, and the other eight in Fujian, which lies opposite Taiwan, the official Xinhua news agency said in reports carried in state newspapers.

Chanchu -- the strongest typhoon on record to enter the South China Sea in the month of May -- triggered houses to collapse and landslides in Guandgong's Shantou city.

The weather in Shanghai, China's commercial and financial hub, improved on Friday as the typhoon weakened, after bringing heavy rain and gusting winds in what officials said was the season's earliest typhoon to affect the city in 80 years.

In Taiwan, the central weather bureau lifted land and sea warnings on Thursday night, but the storm there caused agricultural losses totaling T$158.88 million ($5 million).

Chanchu, which killed at least 37 people when it swept across the Philippines last weekend, had forced the evacuation of more than 1 million people in China and the cancellation of flights and ferries.

Typhoons, drawing strength from warm water, roar into China from the South China Sea every year between May and September, losing power once they make landfall.

(Additional reporting by Godwin Chellam in Shanghai and Lee Chyen Yee in Taipei)