07/17/2010, 00.00
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Conson Cyclone passes over China with limited casualties: 2 dead

On the island of Hanian a security guard, and a motorcyclist were killed by billboards uprooted by winds of over 120 kilometres per hour. The floods of recent days have raised fears of big losses in agricultural production.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - China is on high alert for the arrival of Typhoon Conson, that killed 38 people and left a trail of destruction in the Philippines. Last night the typhoon hit southern China and caused at least two deaths on the island of Hainan, before passing on its way towards Vietnam more than 150 thousand people are being evacuated.

The strong winds and heavy rains caused blackouts in Sanya, a resort town Hainan Island. A security guard and a motorcyclist knocked down by billboards uprooted by the wind.

The first typhoon of the season, Conson lost a lot of its destructive power after making landfall on the Philippines and was "demoted" to a tropical storm, but two days ago it gained strength and was again classified as a typhoon, with winds of 120 mph. Last night flights were cancelled and ferry services suspended to Hainan Island, marooning than 150 passengers.

Over 1,200 soldiers were deployed in Zhejiang and Hunan, regions already flagellated by severe floods along the Yangtze River caused by days of heavy rains.

The floods (see photo) have affected an estimated 35.5 million people with 1.2 million displaced, the official toll is of 135 dead and 41 missing. The Commission on the Yangtze River Water Resources warned that if the rains continue, the country could suffer the worst flooding in 12 years.

Chen Mengshan, Agriculture Ministry spokesman, fears that the heavy rains will also do serious damage to crops.

Tropical cyclones are not infrequent at this time of year, affecting the Philippines, China, Japan and Taiwan, gathering strength from the warm waters of the South China Sea to unload their violence once they make landfall.
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