300 Vietnamese fishermen rescued after record China typhoon

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Super Typhoon Chanchu at peak intensity.

China has rescued more than 300 Vietnamese fishermen who were missing in the wake of a record typhoon, Chanchu, which blasted the South China Sea.

Survivors were found on 22 Vietnamese ships near the Pratas Islands, off the southern coast of Guangdong province. State television reported the rescue as the "largest international marine rescue operation ever mounted by China."

Eight fishing ships sank 1,000 km east of Vietnam's central city of Danang, while eight remained missing. Rescuers had found 26 bodies and rescued 81 others, the Vietnamese government said in a statement. "However, the number of missing fishermen and the ships remains huge," Prime Minister Phan Van Khai said on state-run Vietnam Television.

On the Da Nang coast, relatives of the missing fishermen erected altars with flowers and fruits. Weeping families burnt incense and prayed for loved ones to return.

Flooding caused by the typhoon, in Shantou, Guangdong Province, China

Typhoon Chanchu was downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday when it crossed the southern Chinese coast. The storm caused landslides, flooding and forced around a million people to evacuate. Landslides and collapsing buildings killed 15 people and left four missing in China's Fujian province. Eight more people died in neighboring Guangdong province. Flooding in southern Taiwan swept two women to their deaths.

Chanchu, the most powerful on record to enter the South China Sea in May, left a wake of damage in the region - killing at least 37 people in the Philippines last weekend.

The typhoon, with winds of up to 170 km per hour, has reportedly killed 23 people in China. Vietnam's Fisheries Ministry had listed more than 400 fishermen as missing from Danang city and the nearby provinces of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai.

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