China Braces for Typhoon Kaemi, Death Toll Rises to 612

China's death toll from tropical storm Bilis rose to 612 on Monday, the official Xinhua News Agency said, as the country braced for the arrival of Typhoon Kaemi.

Bilis initially hit the mainland as a typhoon on July 14, triggering flooding and mudslides in the southeastern coastal provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Guangxi and the inland provinces of Jiangxi and Hunan, Xinhua said.

The new figure was up from a weekend toll of 530, but the Xinhua report did not give any details on where the deaths occurred. It also said 208 people were missing.

Hunan, the hardest-hit area, initially said 92 were killed, but gave a higher toll after state television discovered and reported that 197 people had died in one city. Local officials frequently tried to cover up man-made and natural disasters, fearing both Beijing's and the public's disapproval.

Some 3 million people in the region have also been forced to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, Fujian began preparations for the arrival of Typhoon Kaemi, which was expected to hit between Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing strong wind and rainstorms, Xinhua said. Bilis had killed 43 people in Fujian.

Some 7,000 people in fishing boats were ordered back to shore on Monday, while another 30,000 will be ordered back in the next day, it said.

Thousands of armed police with vans and speedboats were also poised to launch rescue and relief operations, it said.

The Fujian government has set aside 12,000 tents, 50,000 quilts, 80,000 items of clothing, and a five-day food supply for 300,000 people in preparation for Kaemi, it said.

In neighboring Zhejiang province, heavy rains and winds were also forecast for the cities of Wenzhou, Taizhou and Ningbo, Xinhua said.

Also Monday, Xinhua said heavy rains and hail sweeping through the eastern Chinese province of Anhui in the past three days have triggered flooding that has caused $11.6 million in damage.

Two people were killed by lightning when storms hit Chaohu, a city in Anhui, while a third person was fatally struck in Lu'an, another city, Xinhua said.

It did not say what the victims were doing or when they died.