POSTED: 11:45 p.m. HST, Oct 23, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 10:17 a.m. HST, Oct 24, 2010
BEIJING — Torrential rains drenched China's southeastern coast as once-powerful Typhoon Megi weakened to a tropical depression Sunday and more than 300,000 evacuees waited to return to their battered homes.
Megi has dumped up to 13 inches (33 centimeters) of rain on Chinese coastal villages after hitting the mainland Saturday. News reports described extensive damage to fishing boats and shellfish beds in Fujian province, where more heavy rain was falling Sunday.
A super typhoon at its peak strength, Megi cut a swath of destruction through the Philippines and Taiwan in the past week. Landslides and flooding in Taiwan killed as many as 31 people, and at least 28 people died in the northern Philippines.
An estimated 313,700 people were evacuated in Fujian and authorities were deciding Sunday whether it was safe to return, said an employee of the provincial Flood Control Headquarters.
"After checking the safety of houses, different areas can decide when to allow people to return," said the employee, who would give only her surname, Li.
China's weather bureau downgraded Megi to a tropical storm on Saturday as its wind speeds slowed and later lowered its status to a depression. The government lifted a typhoon alert early Sunday.
In the city of Zhangzhou in Fujian, officials estimated damage from the storm at 1.5 billion yuan ($220 million), the Guangzhou Daily newspaper said on its website.
The Internet portal Sina.com cited a resident near the port of Gulei as saying some 2,000 fishing boats were damaged and unusable. Sina said its reporter saw uprooted trees, billboards torn down by high winds and flooded farmland.
Ferry service linking Xiamen, a coastal business center, with the outlying Taiwanese island of Jinmen resumed Sunday after a two-day suspension that stranded thousands of travelers, the government's China News Service reported.
In Taiwan, rescuers have found mangled vehicle parts thought to be a missing bus carrying 19 Chinese tourists. Nine people were buried in a landslide at a Buddhist temple and three others drowned in their homes.
The bus passengers were among 23 people still missing on the island.
Megi bypassed Vietnam, but the country's central provinces were battered by rain over the past week that killed at least 75 people and forced more than 170,000 people from their homes.
Thailand also suffered flooding the government said caused at least 23 deaths.