Rescue Efforts Slow after Typhoon Saomai Hits China
Typhoon Saomai, the most severe storm China has encountered in 50 years, destroyed ships and houses and caused mass casualties along the coastal regions of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces.
Most of the ships that had headed into shore to seek refuge were capsized during the storm with many people still aboard.
According to local residents, delays in communications and the complex nature of the rescue have left many people and hundreds of corpses still stranded in the ocean.
Reports from officials in Fujian Province claim that only 41 people died in Fuding City, the city hit hardest by the typhoon. However, telephone calls made by The Epoch Times to the region and other media reports reveal that many dead bodies are still floating in the sea and that the cries of family members can be heard throughout the city. The storm killed thousands of people, including naval officers and soldiers involved in the rescue.
A farmer from Fuding City said that the city looked horrific and that the government falsified their reports. He claims to have lost over one million yuan (US$ 125,000) in property from damage caused by the storm. The farmer also states that hundreds of bodies lay on the shore and even more are floating in the sea. “It will take several incinerators to cremate all the bodies,” he remarked.
In the afternoon of August 10, 2006, Saomai hit Fuding City and wreaked havoc for around four hours, and then another four hours in Zherong City. With wind speeds reaching as high as level 17, a Fuding government representative said, “Glass could be seen flying through the air, and no one was able to leave the building.”
The impact of the storm brought great loses to the southeastern coastal region, especially Shacheng Township in Fuding, which has the most casualties. A resident of Nanzhen Village said that she is on the verge of a mental breakdown because four of her five relatives who worked at sea had been killed during the storm and one is yet to be found.
She said that as far as she knew, more than 100 more the over 1,000 villagers had died in the typhoon, but only more than ten bodies were found. She also told the reporter that the dead body of a young man, father to a 19-day old baby, was found but left unattended in the open air. The body rotted so badly that the intestines were exposed. Local officials finally had the body transported to the crematory only under the pressure from local residents.
The typhoon was so strong that it could blow away the top floor of a cement three-floor building. Local residents now have neither electricity nor water supply. Most of them had even no place to live in as their homes were blown down.
The villager also told the reporter that the central government sent reporters to Zhejiang, but the local officials were very corrupted, and they just kept the reporters in the hotels, preventing them from going to the villages.
She also said that the coastal police sent out boats to search for survivors, but the police did not dare to sail the boasts too close as they feared the big boats might hurt the survivors. The police could only help survivors who approach their boat. Now more and more bodies have floated to the outer sea.
According to earlier reports from Reuters, the Chinese government shut off villages where the death toll is really high to stop news getting out. The Epoch Times tried to contact the local government, but nobody answered the phone. The Epoch Times also called the Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters of Fuding City, and was told that the electricity and water supply has been recovered in town and city areas, but it will take some more time in other areas. The headquarter said they could not estimate financial losses and death tolls, but they indicated that Fujian has sent out over 200 armed police and local Red Cross teams to the rescue.