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Storm kills 31 in China, destroys 46,000 homes

Tropical Storm Prapiroon caused at least 31 deaths in China, authorities said Friday as heavy rain continued to fall across the south.
A villager collects bananas from trees blown over by Tropical Storm Prapiroon at a farm in Gaozhou, China, on Friday.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

China's death toll from Tropical Storm Prapiroon has risen by 22 to at least 31, with 14 more people missing, state media reported Saturday.

Deaths were reported in Guangdong province, where Prapiroon roared ashore on Thursday, and the neighboring Guangxi region to the west, the Xinhua News Agency said.

It said 46,000 houses were destroyed and damage was estimated at $300 million. The storm, came ashore Thursday night in Guangdong province as a typhoon with sustained winds of 74 mph.

Prapiroon weakened to a depression Friday as it moved northwest through the Guangxi region on China’s southern coast, but stormy weather was forecast through Saturday for several southern provinces.

Authorities evacuated about 400,000 people in low-lying areas of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan, about 370 miles southwest of Hong Kong on the South China Sea, Xinhua said.

Prapiroon killed six people earlier as it passed across the Philippines, and one person in Hong Kong was injured Wednesday when high winds toppled empty cargo containers at a shipping terminal.

Across densely populated southern China, more than 1,460 people have died this typhoon season, which started unusually early in May. The season usually runs from June to September.

Chinese officials estimate more than 1 million houses have been damaged and millions of acres of farmland and forests destroyed.

Total economic losses are estimated at close to $10 billion, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. The agency appealed this week for $4.8 million in cash and material assistance for China.

“The 2006 flood season is rapidly emerging as one of the most serious in recent years,” the Red Cross said in a statement.