Death Toll From China Typhoon Rises to 214

China's death toll from Typhoon Saomai rose Monday to at least 214 after bodies were pulled from the sea as the army mobilized to repair roads and water supplies following the strongest storm to hit the country in five decades.

More than 100 people were still missing, raising the possibility that the death toll from the storm that slammed into China's crowded southeast on Thursday could climb much higher.

The number of confirmed deaths rose by 80 after scores of bodies were pulled from the sea in Fuding, a city in Fujian province where at least 97 people were killed, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

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Saomai destroyed more than 50,000 houses, sank more than 1,000 ships and tore down power lines, blacking out six cities. More than 1.6 million people were forced to flee their homes.

The death toll stood at 125 in Fujian, 87 in neighboring Zhejiang province and two in Jiangxi, an inland province that was drenched as Saomai moved west across China, the report said.

Soldiers were sent to repair roads, phone and power lines and water supplies destroyed by Saomai and other recent storms, Xinhua said.

Saomai, the Vietnamese name for the planet Venus, was the eighth major storm to hit China during an unusually violent typhoon season.

The region was still recovering from Tropical Storm Bilis, which killed more than 600 people last month.

Cities hardest-hit by Saomai were coastal Wenzhou, where at least 81 people were killed, and Fuding in Fujian province, with 41 deaths and 1,350 people injured.

The Fujian provincial government's announcement Monday of more deaths didn't say where they occurred.

In Fuding, the storm damaged an 1,146-year-old Buddhist temple, collapsing its gate house and 20 other buildings, Xinhua said. It said damage to the Ziguo temple totaled 5 million yuan (US$625,000; euro490,000).

Saomai killed at least two people in the Philippines earlier and dumped rain on Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The weather bureau said Saomai was the most powerful typhoon since its record-keeping began in 1949.

In 1956, a typhoon with winds up to 234 kph (145 mph) killed 4,900 people in Zhejiang.

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