BEIJING -- Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Kaemi collapsed a levee in southern China yesterday, threatening to flood the homes of 20,000 villagers as soldiers filled the breach with sandbags and tree stumps.
The storm brought torrential rain and winds that killed at least nine people and left 19 missing, China's official Xinhua news agency said. Seven of the dead and all of the missing were in Jiangxi province, just inland from Fujian province, where Kaemi made landfall as a typhoon Tuesday, the news agency said. Two people died in a landslide in Guangdong province, south of Fujian.
More than 640,000 people were evacuated in Fujian ahead of Kaemi's arrival and 44,000 fishing boats returned to port.
Kaemi is the seventh typhoon to hit during China's rainy summer season. Each year, hundreds die in China as floods and mudslides rush down mountains and overwhelm villages, and dams are smashed by rising torrents.
Although Kaemi dissipated into a depression yesterday, it continued to pound a wide swath of the south with heavy rain.
Flooding triggered landslides that slammed into five towns in Shangyou, a county in Jiangxi province, ``destroying roads and cutting off communications," Xinhua quoted a local official as saying.
In Fujian, the downpours caused a 650-foot-long levee in Zhao'an County to collapse yesterday morning, threatening 20,000 residents of six villages, Xinhua said. More than 200 soldiers were working on emergency repairs, the agency said, and by evening they had filled the breach with more than 5,000 sandbags and 60 tree stumps.