(Corrects headline to show number of dead and missing)
BEIJING/TAIPEI, July 12 China and Taiwan braced
on Friday for the impact of Typhoon Soulik as the toll of dead
and missing from torrential rain across a broad swathe of China
climbed beyond 200.
Soulik is expected to hit northern Taiwan later in the day,
before crossing the narrow Taiwan Strait and slamming into
China's provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang on Saturday.
"Government departments must place saving people's lives as
their top priority," Chinese state media quoted Premier Li
Keqiang as saying, as officials scrambled to tackle the floods.
The Taipei city government has ordered companies and schools
to send staff and pupils home early, although the financial
markets will operate normally.
Taiwan's China Airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay
Pacific Airways Ltd both warned of significant
cancellations and disruption of flights to and from Taiwan on
The storm will also pass close to the far southern Japanese
islands of Ishigaki and Miyako.
China has ordered fishing boats to return to port and
suspended ferry links to Taiwan, official news agency Xinhua
The typhoon approaches as large parts of China are already
being lashed by torrential rain.
At least 36 people have died in flooding in the southwestern
province of Sichuan since the weekend, and 166 people are
missing, the China News Service said.
State television has broadcast dramatic pictures of bridges
and houses being washed away around Beichuan and Dujiangyan in
Sichuan, a region that is still recovering from a massive
earthquake in 2008 that killed nearly 70,000 people.
China's Ministry of Civil Affairs said flooding had also hit
Xinjiang in the far west as well as Tibet and Beijing, the
capital. In Inner Mongolia at least five people have died, it
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Faith Hung in
TAIPEI; Additional reporting by Elaine Lies in TOKYO; Editing by