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China braces for Typhoon Rammasun

Southern China is bracing for the arrival of Typhoon Rammasun after the storm blasted through the northern Philippines, leaving at least 40 dead.

Heavy rain and landslides over the past week have already killed at least 45 people in southern China and left 21 missing, the country's Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

The toll is expected to rise as Rammasun arrives packing wind gusts expected to surpass 90mph.

In Sichuan province, a landslide engulfed a truck and four cars on a road, killing 11 people and injuring 19, according to an official in the province's Maoxian county.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said heavy rains and associated floods and landslides over the past week had also killed 34 people and left 21 missing in seven southern provinces. The bulk of these deaths and missing persons were in Guizhou and Hunan provinces.

The ministry said nearly 9,300 houses had collapsed in the rains, and a further 63,000 had been damaged. The rains had also affected 384,000 hectares of crops and caused direct economic losses of 5.2 billion yuan (£490 million), it said.

Chinese state television showed flooding threatening the picturesque tourist town of Fenghuang in Hunan province, with a historic arched bridge barely emerging from floodwaters.

The rain had also reached the capital Beijing and flooded some streets.

In the Philippines, most businesses, shops and banks in Manila reopened a day after Rammasun moved on, but schools remained closed as workers cleaned up debris, which littered roads around the capital.

The eye of the typhoon made a late shift away from Manila last night after its peak winds of 93mph and gusts up to 115mph toppled trees and electricity posts and ripped off roofs across the capital, but Rammasun packed far less power than last year's Typhoon Haiyan. At least 6,300 people died and more than 1,000 were left missing after Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms to hit land.

More than 500,000 people affected by the typhoon fled to emergency shelters in about a dozen provinces and the Philippine capital, said Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

Although Rammasun slightly weakened as it scythed across the country's main northern Luzon Island, it could strengthen over the South China Sea before reaching either Vietnam or southern China, according to government forecasters.

Rammasun, the Thai term for god of thunder, is the seventh storm to batter the region this year.

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