TAIPEI, Taiwan – Bulldozers and rescue crews on Friday scraped away at the dirt and boulders that officials said buried as many as 15 people in a northern Taiwanese village ravaged by Typhoon Aere (search) before it spun toward China.
The storm moved south in China's Guangdong (search) province on Thursday afternoon and was downgraded to a tropical storm as its winds slowed.
As of mid-morning Friday, "it's totally disappeared," said a man who answered the phone at the Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Bureau in the provincial capital of Guangzhou, near Hong Kong.
Guangdong has lifted its typhoon warning, said the man, who wouldn't give his name.
Some parts of Guangdong received up to 4.8 inches of rain, but no deaths were reported on the Chinese mainland.
The typhoon has been blamed for 35 deaths, including 30 in Taiwan and five in the Philippines. The figure included fishermen and swimmers who died in rough seas as the storm was approaching Taiwan from the Pacific.
Some survivors of Wednesday's mudslide in Wufeng cried as they recalled how they had felt safe in the Taiwanese village, nestled in a lush mountain valley and seemingly protected from landslides that frequently wipe away homes after storms drench unstable mountain slopes.
"We never thought that this slope would give way. In less than two to three seconds, this whole area was flattened. My mother and son were killed," one survivor, who wasn't identified, told TVBS cable news.
Aere — which means "storm" in the language of the Marshall Islands (search) — came ashore on China's mainland late Wednesday, the second-strongest storm to hit the communist nation this season after Typhoon Rananim, which killed 164 people and devastated the southern Chinese coast.
Two cargo vessels carrying 16 crew members were stranded Thursday on a shoal about 330 feet offshore from Wenzhou city, in east China's Zhejiang province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Deterred by strong winds, rescuers were waiting for high tide, at about dusk, to try to reach the boats, it said.
Chinese authorities credited the minimal casualties from this week's storm to the evacuation of 930,000 people from low-lying and coastal areas. More than 40,000 fishing boats were called back to port and flights in the region were canceled, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
It cited local officials saying that while destructive, the storm had helped ease severe drought in the area.
The greatest destruction was in Taiwan, where more than 20 homes were buried in Wufeng.
Disaster officials with the central government said residents reported that 15 people were buried alive. But a rescue official at the scene said Friday that some survivors said 14 people died.
"We asked witnesses and they said there were eight local residents and three police buried. There were also three people who weren't from the area and their identities are unknown," one unidentified rescue official told TVBS.