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7.18.2005

China evacuates 600,000 people





From Yahoo via Signs of the Times

TAIPEI (Reuters) - China evacuated over 600,000 people from coastal areas on Monday after typhoon Haitang slammed into Taiwan, killing up to four people, injuring 25 and forcing offices, schools and markets to shut across the island.

At 1300 GMT, Haitang was packing maximum winds of 144 km/h (89 mph), down from a previous 184 km/h, and gusts of up to 180 km/h, weaker than the earlier 227 km/h, said Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau.

If the typhoon stays on its present course, it will hit China's southeastern coast on Tuesday afternoon.

"Based on our current forecast data, it should make landfall in mainland China around 2 p.m. local time," said Daniel Wu, director of the bureau's forecasting center, noting the margin of error was around two to three hours.

The official death toll in Taiwan stood at one -- a man killed by falling rocks -- but the National Fire Agency said another three bodies had been found. They were not included in the official tally as the cause of death is still being investigated.

Another person was swept away while fishing, the agency said, and 25 people had been injured in the storm, which was weakening as it swept southwest across Taiwan toward China's coastal rice-growing provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian.

Weather forecasters warned torrential rain would continue to hammer the island through to Wednesday, but Taipei and most local governments said business will resume on Tuesday.