E  /  AP
Two women push their bicycles through knee-deep water Friday after Typhoon Rananim passed through Wenling in east China's Zhejiang province.
updated 8/13/2004 9:08:08 PM ET 2004-08-14T01:08:08

The most powerful typhoon to hit China in seven years roared inland Friday after killing 115 people and injuring more than 1,800 others along the coast and leaving a path of destruction though farms, towns and fishing ports.

Typhoon Rananim weakened to a tropical storm after crossing into Jiangxi province, where it brought heavy rain to China’s central lakes region, meteorologists said.

Sixteen people were missing in Zhejiang province, just south of Shanghai, where the typhoon made landfall Thursday night with winds of more than 100 mph, China Central Television reported.

More than 1,800 people were injured, 185 of them seriously, while 42,000 houses were destroyed and tens of thousands more were damaged, various government reports said.

Television and newspaper pictures showed people caught in the open crouching low to avoid being blown over by gales and flying rain. In the city of Wenzhou, two grabbed at a canvas-topped bicycle taxi that had been blown into the air.

CCTV showed uprooted trees, fallen billboards, swamped bridges and a man trying to hold onto his bicycle but being dragged along the street by the roaring winds.

Huge waves pounded fishing ports, which were reinforced by cement blocks, while ferries and small boats were tied up at the dock. Other boats were caught at sea, but there were no immediate reports of any lost.

Collapsing houses cause most deaths
Most of the deaths were caused by collapsing houses, said an official at the Zhejiang Anti-Flood Headquarters in the provincial capital of Hangzhou. “Other deaths were caused by falling electricity poles (and) people falling into rivers,” the official said. He wouldn’t give his name.

Authorities evacuated 410,000 people from the storm’s path, many from rural villages where raging wind and rain destroyed huge swaths of cropland and killed thousands of livestock, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Power was knocked out in the city of Taizhou and millions of people lost water and phone service, it said.

Rananim, which means “hello” in the Chuukese language spoken in Micronesia, hit the coastal Chinese city of Wenling on Thursday after killing one person in Taiwan. The city is about 90 miles south of Shanghai, where the storm caused little damage but helped break a heat wave.

High winds, heavy rains still coming
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.

A series of natural disasters have severely strained China’s emergency services this summer.

On Tuesday, a strong earthquake destroyed thousands of dwellings in the southwestern province of Yunnan, leaving about 126,000 people homeless. Four people were killed in the quake, and emergency workers say the earthquake-prone region’s tobacco-based economy was smashed and will likely take years to recover.

China also has suffered from devastating floods in much of the center and south of the country, along with drought and unusually high temperatures elsewhere.

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