China Storm Costs $480 Million

China said a tropical storm caused losses of about 3.1 billion yuan ($480 million), destroying hundreds of homes as it battered the country’s east coast before slamming into North Korea on Tuesday.

The Chinese weather agency said it had downgraded Tropical Storm Muifa to a depression after it made landfall in North Korea early Tuesday, avoiding a feared direct hit on China’s densely populated commercial capital Shanghai further south.

The National Disaster Reduction Committee said 1.35 million people were evacuated, 600 houses destroyed and another 4,800 damaged as Muifa skirted China’s eastern coast.

There were no confirmed deaths in China, but one person was missing after a boat sank, and four people were killed in neighbouring South Korea.

North Korea’s state-run news agency, KCNA, reported heavy rain but gave no details of any damage or casualties.

In Shanghai, hundreds of flights had to be cancelled and thousands of fishing boats were called back to port over the weekend.

US oil giant ConocoPhillips said the storm had forced it to suspend clean-up operations on a two-month-old oil spill off the coast of Shandong province.

Authorities had expressed concern that Muifa could cause destruction similar to that unleashed by Typhoon Saomai in 2006, which was the worst to hit China in 50 years and killed at least 450 people.

On Monday there was a brief scare after the storm destroyed a dyke protecting a chemical plant from the sea on the north-east coast but China later said workers had managed to repair it.

Thousands of soldiers were on standby to conduct rescue and relief work after the storm passes, the official Xinhua news agency said.

In Dandong, on the China side of the border with North Korea, authorities have set up more than 750 temporary shelters that are capable of accommodating more than a million people, Xinhua reported.

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