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Death toll hits 45 as Typhoon Lekima hits China

Christian Fernsby |
Armed police, firefighters and civil rescue teams are united in their emergency rescue and disaster relief work as China experiences a rainy summer, with a record 377 rivers reporting alarming water levels and floods killing more than 90.

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Typhoon Lekima, the most serious natural disaster this summer, has claimed at least 45 lives and affected 8.9 million people across the region.

By Monday morning, the death toll in East China's Zhejiang Province had risen to 39 while nine others remained missing, said the Zhejiang provincial flood control headquarters.

The ninth and strongest typhoon of the year has affected 6.68 million residents in Zhejiang, among whom 1.26 million were evacuated. Typhoon Lekima damaged 234,000 hectares of crops, inflicting a direct economic loss of 24.22 billion yuan ($3.4 billion), the Xinhua News Agency reported.

More than 30,000 firefighters have conducted 6,177 emergency operations and rescued some 9,000 trapped people in regions hit by the typhoon, China Central Television (CCTV) reported Monday.

As of Sunday, more than 1,300 armed police officers had been dispatched, rescuing 2,100 people and transporting 30 tons of relief goods in East China's Zhejiang and Shandong provinces plus the municipality of Shanghai, Xinhua reported Sunday.

Authorities have mobilized effective rescue and relief efforts, with firefighters, soldiers, policemen and government agency staff searching for those missing, according to Xinhua.

Besides firefighters and armed police, more flexible civil rescue teams are also playing a proactive role in disaster-relief missions during Lekima and other floods this summer, Chinese observers noted.

Hours after learning the nearby city of Linhai was in need of rescue efforts, the Xiaoshan Rescue Team of Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang, organized a squad of 12 volunteers and arrived in Linhai at midnight.

The team helped transfer some 100 people, including the elderly and sick, and distributed food and water to those who were trapped by the floods, said rescuer Chen Ying.

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