Tropical Storm Bilis Kills 42 in China

Tropical storm Bilis killed at least 42 people and injured hundreds as it churned across China's southeast, the government's main news agency reported Sunday.

At least nine people also were missing after Bilis swept through the densely populated coast early Friday and turned inland, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing disaster officials.

Hardest-hit was the inland province of Hunan, where at least 36 people were confirmed dead and 100 missing by Saturday afternoon, Xinhua said, without saying how the deaths occurred.

It said 349 people were injured in Hunan and 40,000 stranded by high water.

Another six people were killed in the southeastern coastal province of Guangdong, the agency said. The area is the center of China's export-driven manufacturing industries.

Losses in the neighboring coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian were estimated at 1.1 billion yuan, Xinhua said. It didn't give figures for Guangdong or Hunan.

The storm flooded farmland and cut roads and power lines, Xinhua said.

A Russian vessel sank off the coast during the storm, but the 11-member crew were rescued, Xinhua said.

China had evacuated more than 250,000 fishermen and others from coastal areas and canceled airline flights.

Bilis weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm early Friday after lashing Taiwan.

China is hit by several typhoons and suffers hundreds of rain deaths every summer. The country expects to suffer from more storms than usual this year due to an unusually warm current off its Pacific coast and high temperatures over the Tibetan plateau.

At least 349 people died in China in June due to flooding, landslides and other weather-related disasters, with another 99 people missing, the government says. Damage was estimated at $2.5 billion.

Photos released by Xinhua showed storm-driven waves pounding the coastline while police officers and soldiers piled up sandbags to plug a gap in an unfinished flood dike and helped residents of low-lying areas leave their homes.