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Typhoon weakens as it nears South China

Typhoon Megi's threat appeared to ease Thursday as it approached southern China after killing 20 people and damaged thousands of homes when it hit the northern Philippines.
A boat sails past docked ships at a port in Haikou, in south China's Hainan province, Wednesday ahead of an expected hit from super typhoon Megi, which it killed 15 people and wiped out crops in the northern Philippines.
A boat sails past docked ships at a port in Haikou, in south China's Hainan province, Wednesday ahead of an expected hit from super typhoon Megi, which it killed 15 people and wiped out crops in the northern Philippines.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Typhoon Megi's threat appeared to ease Thursday as it approached southern China, but residents kept up precautions for a storm that killed 20 people and damaged thousands of homes when it slammed into the northern Philippines.

Residents stockpiled food and ships were ordered to dock.

Floods have killed more than 70 people across Asia.

Megi was located 280 miles southeast of the southern Chinese financial hub Hong Kong late Thursday morning, generating winds of 110 miles per hour — much weaker than the winds of 140 mph it inflicted on the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Still, officials and residents in the region were wary given the destruction Megi wreaked earlier in the week. In the Philippines, more than 330,000 people were affected by the typhoon, including 11,000 who fled to evacuation centers, officials said. About $110 million worth of infrastructure and crops were damaged and nearly 5,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, according to the government's disaster-response agency.

More than 48,000 fishing boats have returned to harbor in Guangdong, the state flood control office said Wednesday, and another 26,000 fishing boats returned to harbor on the island of Hainan, off China's southern coast. In Hainan, officials also prepared tents, flashlights, food and disinfectant, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Farther east in Fujian province, more than 150,000 people had been evacuated, the local government said Thursday.

In Hong Kong, while the weather was hazy and dry on Thursday, residents in a suburban village known for its coastal homes on stilts hunkered down. Villagers in Tai O installed metal barricades and moved electrical appliances refrigerators and washing machines to higher ground, Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper reported on Thursday.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said Thursday that Typhoon Megi was unlikely to make landfall on the island but warned residents in southern and eastern Taiwan to brace for heavy rains and landslides. It also cautioned ships off the southern and western parts of the island to be on the lookout out for rough seas.

Separately, in Bangkok, officials were on guard for flooding as raging waters from annual monsoon rains were due to sweep down the Chao Phraya river into the Thai capital. Bangkok Deputy Gov. Porntep Techaipaibul said that officials have prepared more than 4 million sandbags.

A Buddhist monk rows his boat past a giant Buddha image at a flooded temple in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. The death toll from flooding in Thailand rose to five on Tuesday. Downpours that started over the weekend have affected nearly 55,000 people in 17 central and northeastern provinces, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department. (AP Photo)
A Buddhist monk rows his boat past a giant Buddha image at a flooded temple in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. The death toll from flooding in Thailand rose to five on Tuesday. Downpours that started over the weekend have affected nearly 55,000 people in 17 central and northeastern provinces, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department. (AP Photo)AP

Bangkok Deputy Gov. Porntep Techaipaibul said that officials have prepared more than 4 million sandbags amid fears of serious floods in parts of the city, particularly during high tides next week.

Authorities say the flooding has affected nearly 4,000 villages in 19 eastern, central and northeastern provinces. More heavy rains — the tail end of the annual monsoon — are forecast, including in some central provinces.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, where recent flooding from a different weather system has killed at least 45 people over the past week, soldiers and police found a bus that was carrying dozens of people when it was washed away by flood waters, disaster officials said Wednesday. It was located on a river bed, half a mile downstream from where it was yanked off the road. Twenty people who failed to escape the bus before it was inundated are missing, presumed dead.

Up to 4.5 feet of rain pounded the region in the past week, submerging more than 220,000 houses and forcing more than 173,000 people to flee their homes, according to the national flood and storm control committee.