updated 8/12/2004 9:02:32 PM ET 2004-08-13T01:02:32

The death toll from Typhoon Rananim rose to 63 early Friday with more than 1,800 injured, after the strongest storm of the season slammed into China’s southeastern coast, official news reports said.

Another 15 people were missing in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, where the storm roared ashore late Thursday, the Web site of the main Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily and other outlets reported.

Power in the major city of Taizhou was knocked out and millions of people lost water and phone service, the reports said. They didn’t cite any source for the information but gave identical casualty figures.

Many of the injuries were caused by collapsing homes, they said.

Rananim slammed into the Chinese mainland late Thursday after killing one person in Taiwan.

The Shihmen Reservoir, Taiwan’s biggest reservoir, opened its floodgates to let off excess water, and authorities urged residents downstream to evacuate where necessary.

Earlier Thursday, some 300,000 people reportedly were evacuated from low-lying coastal areas as the typhoon churned toward the coast.

The storm hit the coastal city of Wenling at 8 p.m., the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The area is about 90 miles south of China’s commercial hub of Shanghai, where strong winds blew all day Thursday.

Rananim was traveling northeast from Taiwan, packing sustained winds of 87 mph and gusts of up to 109 mph.

High winds and torrential rains were expected as far as 150 miles away in the provinces of Fujian to the south and Anhui to the northwest, Xinhua said.

While authorities warned of damage to homes and reservoirs, the storm also is expected to help relieve a drought and heat wave affecting much of eastern China.

Rananim means “hello” in the Chuukese language spoken in Micronesia.

The storm’s fringe brushed over Taiwan’s northeastern tip on Thursday, killing a road worker and bringing heavy rains and strong winds that uprooted trees and flooded streets.

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