Typhoon Matsa kills four in east China

Shanghai, August 7:

More than 1.2 million people were evacuated as Typhoon Matsa slammed into China’s southeastern coast yesterday, killing at least four people and knocking down street signs and buildings.

Residents of Shanghai, a city of more than 20 million and China’s busiest port, were warned to stay home yesterday and watch out for blowing debris. Both of the city’s airports were closed.

One man died and three were injured when winds destroyed a brick dormitory at a downtown construction site, state television reported. Strong gusts toppled trees, shattered windows and damaged some buildings, the reports said.

The Xinhua said the storm also killed two others in Zhejiang province and one person in Anhui province, but no details were given.

After dumping torrential rains on Taiwan, the storm hit land near Yuhuan in China’s Zhejiang province at about 3:40 am and was about 250 km south of Shanghai by midday.

Late last night, the storm moved inland, passing into Anhui, the government weather service announced.

Matsa was downgraded from a typhoon to a severe tropical storm yesterday, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, with winds of below 118 km per hour.

About 43,000 Shanghai residents living in substandard housing near coastal areas were moved to safer locations, the city government said.

Meanwhile, 1.24 million residents were evacuated in Zhejiang, where 164 people were killed last year when Typhoon Rananim churned through, the state-run newspaper China Daily said. That storm was said to be China’s most powerful since 1956.

Forecasts were for up to 300 mm of rain, as well as lightning, thunder and hail.

Matsa, named after a Laotian fish, swirled near Taiwan on Thursday, causing an estimated $1.47 million in damage to the island’s agriculture, poultry and fishery industries, the island’s Council of Agriculture said on its Web site.