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Typhoons wallop Taiwan, Vietnam; power, lives lost

TAIPEI - A typhoon lashed Taiwan with intense winds and rains yesterday, cutting power to thousands of homes and leaving at least two men missing in the capital.

Mainland China was bracing for Typhoon Krosa next, with authorities ordering tens of thousands of people to higher ground.

In Vietnam, meanwhile, the death toll from Typhoon Lekima rose to 32, with another 16 people missing, disaster officials said yesterday.

In the northern Taiwanese port city of Keelung, which bore the brunt of Krosa's 114 mph winds, about 400,000 households lost electricity, officials said.

Officials said relief workers pulled six survivors from a house buried by a landslide in a hillside Taipei suburb - but they were still searching for two men believed buried in the debris.

Heavy rain also triggered a landslide that blocked a major highway in the east of the island, the United Evening News reported. And about 2,000 households had power failures in northern Miaoli County, where a raging river destroyed a village bridge, officials said.

Taipei's shops and offices were closed yesterday, and residents stayed home. Officials said strong winds uprooted more than 200 trees in the city, while knee-deep water flooded a residential area in suburban Peitou.

Cathay Pacific Airways canceled flights from Taipei to Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. Dragon Airlines also canceled flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In China, more than 138,000 people fled their homes, and 27,000 fishing boats were called back to port in coastal Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, the national flood control office said in a notice on its website.

Krosa is the Cambodian word for a type of crane. The storm was forecast to hit China somewhere between northern Fujian and southern Zhejiang late today.

In Fujian Province, officials ordered tourists away from coastal islands and seaside scenic spots by yesterday evening. Neighboring Zhejiang Province issued a similar order late Friday, with 2,500 people being evacuated from an island near the city of Wenzhou, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Ferries, sightseeing boats, and fishing vessels were also ordered to head for safe harbors, the provincial governments said in notices posted on their websites.

Typhoon Lekima hit Vietnam's central coast late Wednesday and produced extensive flooding.

Authorities said they expected the death toll to go even higher than the 32 reported so far. Nine bodies were recovered yesterday in the worst-hit central province of Nghe An, said provincial disaster official Tran Gia Danh.

"This is the worst flood to hit our province since 1988," Danh said. "We expect the death toll from flooding in the province to rise as communication with some villages remains disrupted."

Lekima, named after a local fruit, also damaged about 77,000 homes, the government said. Although flood waters began receding yesterday in some areas, several villages were cut off because of bridge collapses and landslides that made roads impassable.

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