Typhoons hammer China's eastern provinces

More than 2 million residents in East China's coastal regions were affected by two typhoons on Friday, and one person died in Shandong province, even as the tempests weakened to tropical storms after making landfall.

As of 10 am on Friday, Saola and Damrey had forced the evacuation of about 124,000 residents in Jiangsu province, 180,000 in Shandong province, 237,000 in Zhejiang province, and 173,000 in Fujian province, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The two typhoons landed less than 10 hours apart on Thursday evening and Friday morning, according to the National Meteorological Center.

The storms brought torrential rain to Jiangsu and the southern coastal areas of Shandong early on Friday morning after Damrey landed in Jiangsu at about 9:30 pm on Thursday, the center said.

Similar weather hit Fujian and its neighboring provinces on Friday morning after Saola made landfall in Fuding city at 6:50 am, it said.

This was only the second time that China has braced for dual typhoons since 1949. Zhang Chang'an, deputy director of the typhoon and marine meteorology center of the China Meteorological Administration, said on Thursday that in 2006, Typhoon Bopha and Typhoon Saomai caused severe losses.

Witnesses to the storm described their terror.

"It's too scary! I never thought my house would collapse before my eyes,"said Shen Kaixuan, from Jufeng township of Rizhao, 347 kilometers away from Jinan, the capital of Shandong province.

The 21-year-old student told China Daily on Friday that he went to bed as usual on Thursday night because the rain was not very heavy.

Since Wednesday, five people in Taiwan have died, two remain missing and more than 16 have suffered injuries because of Typhoon Saola, according to the island's emergency operation center.

The Chinese mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits sent a letter of condolence to the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation on Friday over the devastation wrought by the typhoon.

The letter said the ARATS was "deeply concerned" about the death and injuries as well as property losses caused by the floods and mudslides on the island, and it asked SEF to convey its "sincere sympathy" to relevant authorities and affected people, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Wen made the remarks during a two-day tour of Henan and Hubei provinces, where he inspected local flood-control facilities and water-control projects, including Three Gorges Dam, Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.

He urged local authorities to ensure safety and conduct evacuations in a timely manner, adding that observatories and hydrologic monitoring stations should enhance monitoring and guard against possible disasters.

Local authorities need to improve the construction of infrastructure such as flood-control facilities and sewage networks, which he said have been overlooked in many cities.

He ordered local officials to draw up emergency response plans to minimize losses in the event of severe flooding.

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