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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chinese Storm Deaths Jump

BEIJING -- The death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit China in half a century has risen to 255, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said Monday. About 140 people are still missing.

The death toll jumped as the southeastern province of Fujian on Monday raised the number of people killed there to 166 from about 40, Xinhua said, adding that most were fishermen from a single town.

Saomai, graded a "super typhoon" with winds exceeding 216 kilometers per hour, barreled into Cangnan county in Zhejiang province last Thursday, flattening tens of thousands of houses, knocking out power and communications and ruining crops.

The deaths in Fujian were mostly reported in the coastal town of Shacheng, where more than 10,000 ships returned to harbor before Saomai's arrival.

"A lot of fishermen stayed on their boats, worrying that they might be damaged in collisions with other ships," Xinhua said. "The wind was so strong that it overturned many ships and a large number of people were killed or went missing."

Distraught relatives were still searching the waters by boat.

Saomai was stronger than a typhoon that killed about 5,000 in Zhejiang in August 1956, according to Chinese media. Much of south China has been battered by typhoons and tropical storms this year, with nearly 1,000 killed by rainstorms, landslides and other disasters even before Saomai hit.