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Typhoon batters China, 1.24 million evacuated By Emma Graham-Harrison
Sat Aug 6, 9:07 AM ET

Typhoon Matsa battered China´s eastern coast with strong winds and heavy rain on Saturday morning, killing one and forcing more than a million people to flee their homes, state media reported.

The domestic airport in the country´s financial hub, Shanghai, was shut and most international departures were canceled. Debris and small floods clogged streets after downpours in the night.

A shed on one of the city´s many construction sites collapsed in the rain, killing one person and injuring two, the official Xinhua agency reported.

Matsa made landfall before dawn in coastal Zhejiang province, where officials evacuated over 1.24 million people.

It then headed northwest, threatening the scenic provincial capital of Hangzhou, and rains from the massive storm could reach as far north as capital Beijing, official media said.

Residents of badly hit towns waded waist-deep through swirling muddy waters, patrolled by officials in inflatable boats, television pictures showed. The elderly were carried to safety from the rising waters on bamboo stretchers.

Safe harbours have been arranged for 41,000 ships and regional authorities have been urged to lower water levels behind rain-swollen dams to try to avoid flooding.

Landslides blocked a highway in the province, which workers were struggling to clear with earth-movers amid howling winds and heavy rain.

Some coastal bus services have been suspended and Hangzhou bay residents were told to keep away from the river in case of tidal waves. Ningbo port, the country´s second largest in terms of handling capacity, was closed on Friday, the China Daily said.

In Taiwan, Matsa shut down schools, government offices and financial markets in the capital, Taipei, and caused flooding and mudslides in rural areas.

In July, Typhoon Haitang killed 12 people on the island, where three others are still missing.

No casualties have been reported from Matsa, but initial farm damage in Taiwan was estimated at T$36 million (US$1.1 million), while more than 50,000 households were left without electricity and 100,000 families had no tap water, the National Fire Agency said.

Maximum sustained winds of 144 km (89 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 180 km (112 miles) per hour were recorded.

Typhoons gather strength from warm sea water and tend to dissipate after making landfall. They frequently hit Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and southern China during a typhoon season that lasts from early summer to late autumn.

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