Nation & World News

Typhoon Usagi Destroys Homes, Causes Dozens Of Deaths In China

By Bill Chappell on September 23rd, 2013

Typhoon Usagi, which stormed ashore north of Hong Kong on Sunday evening, has been blamed for at least 25 deaths in south China’s Guangdong province. Some 8,490 houses reportedly collapsed in the typhoon’s winds, officials say.

“A total of 5.48 million people were affected and 310,000 residents were displaced due to the storm,” reports the Xinhua state news agency, adding that the storm has caused an estimated $1.16 billion in direct economic losses.

Photos from the area show large parts of a construction site that was blown over in Shanwei City, where the typhoon came ashore in Guangdong. Trees, billboards and lampposts also fell prey to Usagi’s strong winds.

“The toll in our city included seven deaths at a railway construction site. The majority of casualties were due to the collapse of houses where people took shelter,” Xiao Zhan, deputy head of the Shanwei Water Authority, tells Xinhua.

When the storm made landfall, it was packing winds that were tracked at more than 100 miles per hour. It caused at least 370 flight delays at Hong Kong’s airport, stranding thousands of people, according to the South China Morning Post.

On Monday, officials shut down schools and most commercial traffic in cities in Usagi’s path, including Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, Xinhua reports.

The loss of life and damage might have been even worse had Usagi not lost some of its power over the weekend. It also veered north of its expected path, giving densely populated Hong Kong a bit more breathing room.

As NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports, “When the typhoon passed through the northern Philippines Saturday, its winds were gusting at more than 150 miles an hour. It left at least two dead and two missing as it hammered the country’s northernmost islands.”

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