Morakot 3
© Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images
Local residents trapped by flooding during typhoon Morakot wait for help from rescuers, in Chiatung, Pingtung county, Taiwan, Aug. 9, 2009.
A typhoon slammed into China's east coast Sunday, flooding entire villages, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of nearly a million residents, after lashing Taiwan with torrential rains that caused the island's worst flooding in 50 years.

Rescuers on rubber dinghies, wearing life jackets and crash helmets, helped stranded villagers in hard-hit areas of China, while officials elsewhere cycled through floodwaters to deliver food to residents trapped in their homes.

Only rooftops and the highest tree branches were visible above the murky brown water that engulfed part of China's southern Cangnan county. Homes were destroyed and at least one child died after a house collapsed on him in heavy rain in Zhejiang province.

In southern Taiwan, a six-story hotel toppled into a rain-swollen river whose rushing waters had knocked out its foundations.

Typhoon Morakot made landfall in China's Fujian province Sunday, carrying heavy rains and winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, the China Meteorological Administration said.

Taiwan, meanwhile, was recovering after the storm dumped more than 80 inches (200 centimeters) of rain on some southern counties on Friday and Saturday, the worst flooding to hit the area in half a century, the Central Weather Bureau reported.

Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center said a woman was killed when her vehicle plunged into a ditch in Kaohsiung county in heavy rain Friday, and two men drowned in Pingtung and Tainan. It said 31 were missing and feared dead. Crashing floodwaters had washed away roads and bridges in the island's south.

Nearly 1 million people were evacuated from China's eastern coastal provinces by early Sunday - more than 490,000 people in Zhejiang and 480,000 in neighboring Fujian. Authorities in Fujian called 48,000 boats back to harbor.

Thirty-nine flights from Wenzhou city in Zhejiang were canceled Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Village officials in Zhejiang rode bicycles to distribute drinking water and instant noodles to residents stranded by deep floods, Xinhua said.

Heavy rains before the typhoon made landfall destroyed five houses in the province, burying four adults and a 4-year-old boy in debris, Xinhua said. The child died after emergency treatment failed, it said.

People caught in the storm stumbled with flashlights as darkness enveloped the town of Beibi in Fujian, uprooting trees and inundating farmlands, Xinhua said. Farmers tried to catch fish that were swept off fish farms by rising waves.

Rescuers attempted to reach eight sailors on a cargo ship stranded after strong winds blew it onto a reef off Fujian, Xinhua reported.

In Taitung county, a six-story hotel collapsed and plunged into a river after floodwaters eroded its base, but all 300 people inside were evacuated and uninjured, officials said.

Morakot, which means "emerald" in Thai, was expected to travel north at about six miles (10 kilometers) per hour and weaken in strength, the meteorological administration said. It said the storm would also bring strong winds and heavy rains to nearby areas, including Shanghai.

Morakot hit Taiwan late Friday and crossed the island Saturday. Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center reported Sunday that flash floods washed away a home in southern Kaohsiung, leaving 16 people missing. Three were swept away in southeastern Taitung county, including two policemen helping to evacuate villagers.

Twelve others were missing, including three fishermen from a capsized boat and three others whose cars fell into a rain-swollen river, it said.

In southern Pingtung county, 4,000 people were stranded in inundated villages waiting for police boats to rescue them, news media reported.

Morakot was the first typhoon to hit Taiwan this year. Typhoons are common between July and September, often causing injuries and deaths in mountainous regions prone to landslides and flash floods.

Earlier, in the northern Philippines, the typhoon and lingering monsoon rains left 21 people dead and seven others missing in landslides and floodwaters, including three European tourists who were swept away Thursday, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said Sunday.

The bodies of the Belgian and two French citizens were found Friday, the council said.

Meanwhile, Xinhua said three fishermen died and 26 others were missing from Tropical Storm Goni, which hit Guangdong on Wednesday but had weakened to a tropical depression by Sunday. Helicopters and ships were searching for the missing crew.