The strongest typhoon to hit southern China in four decades has killed 18 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, the government and state media said today, while in the Philippines the death toll from the storm's earlier destruction rose to 94. Typhoon Rammasun killed nine people and left five missing after hitting Hainan island on Friday off China's southern coast, the civil affairs ministry said in a statement. Nine others died later in the Guangxi region as the storm plowed into the mainland on its way north to Vietnam.
The storm destroyed 37,000 homes and ravaged 1.2 million acres of crops in Hainan and Guangdong provinces and Guangxi, causing $4.3 billion in damage, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The typhoon is the strongest to hit southern China in 41 years, according to the China Meteorological Administration. Wind speeds reached 130 miles per hour, with the storm knocking down power lines and damaging buildings, Xinhua said. Authorities in southern China ordered the highest level of alert and suspended hundreds of buses, trains and flights across the region. The typhoon had wreaked havoc in the northern Philippines last week, leaving 94 people dead. (Read more typhoon stories.)