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Typhoon Saola makes landfall

3,811 people in 11 cities and counties evacuated

TAIPEI, Taiwan, | August 2, 2012

Typhoon Saola made landfall in eastern Taiwan early Thursday, causing one death and six injuries, officials said.

After ravaging the northern Philippines, leaving behind a death toll of 23, the killer typhoon made landfall Thursday morning, retreating out to sea shortly after. It returned and retreated periodically throughout the afternoon, hitting eastern Taiwan with 7 mph winds before edging north, The Central News Agency reported.

By Thursday morning, 3,811 people in 11 cities and counties had been evacuated while code-red landslide warnings were issued for 317 rivers and streams in Yilan, Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Chiayi and Hualien. Provinces in eastern China prepared for heavy flooding and other disasters accompanying torrential rains unleashed by the storm.

Wang Min-hsiang, head of the Chuntou police precinct, fell into a roaring stream during patrol around 5 a.m. in the Sanxia District of New Taipei. He was rescued and taken to a hospital, but died two hours later.

Six typhoon-related injuries were confirmed in Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung and Tainan, the Central Emergency Operation Center reported.

In the Philippines, which Saola hammered for three days, mainly targeting the main islands of Luzon and Visayas, most of the 23 dead were drowning victims while some were killed by falling trees or in mudslides.

GMA News said at least 21 more people were injured in the Philippines.

Luzon, the country's largest island is home to the capital Manila.

The Philippine Star, quoting the emergency management agency, reported the storm, locally named Gener, had displaced about 200,000 people and destroyed more than 2,700 homes.

Flooding was reported in several areas, damaging roads, knocking out power, destroying crops and killing livestock. Heavy rains were expected to persist Thursday and Saola was forecast to remain in the Philippines until Friday morning, forecasters said.

In Taiwan, the Taipei Times reported forecasters were expecting torrential rains throughout the island nation. About 600 residents had been evacuated from Taipei and another 600 from Yilan and Hualien counties, where the storm was forecast to be at its most fierce.

Parts of northeastern Taiwan already were reporting heavy rains. The Taiwan Railway Administration canceled several express train services.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said it has set up more than 100 camps to accommodate those evacuated from disaster-prone areas as Typhoon Saola approached.

Taiwan's Central News Agency said domestic and international flights were disrupted Wednesday. Some offices and schools remained closed.

After its Taiwan stopover, Saola was forecast to head toward eastern China's Fujian and Zhejiang provinces by Friday.

China was also preparing for Typhoon Damrey, expected to strike in Jiangsu and Shandong provinces. China Daily reported emergency preparations were under way in the eastern provinces.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged local governments Wednesday to monitor the storms and closely publicize relevant information in a timely manner.

Strong winds and heavy rains from the twin typhoons could affect more than 10 provinces, testing the country's flood-control capabilities, the report said.

Both typhoons threatened Shanghai, China's largest city.

"It's quite rare that Shanghai will be influenced by two typhoons at the same time," said Zhang Zhenyu, spokesman for the city's flood prevention department.

He said efforts were under way to speed up improvements to the city's drainage system.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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