BEIJING — A typhoon pummeled China’s eastern coast Sunday, toppling houses, flooding villages and forcing nearly a million people to flee to safety. Officials rode bicycles to distribute food to residents trapped by rising waters.
Typhoon Morakot struck after triggering the worst flooding in Taiwan 50 years, leaving dozens missing and feared dead and toppling a six-story hotel. It earlier lashed the Philippines, killing at least 21 people.
Morakot, which means “emerald” in Thai, made landfall in China’s eastern Fujian province, carrying heavy rain and winds of 74 miles per hour, according the China Meteorological Administration. At least one child died after a house collapsed on him in Zhejiang province.
People stumbled with flashlights as the storm enveloped the town of Beibi in Fujian in darkness, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Strong winds uprooted trees or snapped them apart, while farmers tried to catch fish swept out of fish farms by high waves.
Village officials in Zhejiang rode bicycles to hand out drinking water and instant noodles to residents stranded by deep floods, while rescuers tried to reach eight sailors on a cargo ship blown onto a reef off Fujian, Xinhua reported.
Morakot was expected to weaken as it traveled north at about six miles per hour, but still bring strong winds and heavy rains to Shanghai, the meteorological administration said.
Flood control officials in Shanghai released water stored in inland rivers to reduce levels in preparation, Xinhua said.
About 1 million people were evacuated from China’s eastern coastal provinces — more than 490,000 in Zhejiang and 505,000 in neighboring Fujian. Authorities in Fujian called 48,000 boats back to harbor.
Five houses were destroyed by heavy rain ahead of the typhoon’s landfall, burying four adults and a 4-year-old boy in debris, Xinhua said. The child died after emergency treatment failed, it said.