efe-epaBeijing

Typhoon Lekima, the most severe to hit China since 2014, left at least 44 people dead and 16 missing, according to the latest figures from state-owned China Global Television Network on Monday.

The storm made landfall for the second time on Sunday night in the port city of Qingdao in eastern Shandong province, where it has so far left five dead and seven missing.

In eastern Zhejiang province, 39 people died and another nine are missing.

A 64-year-old man in Taiwan also lost his life after he fell from a tree while trying to prune its branches as a precaution against the typhoon.

Lekima weakened as it advanced through the Asian country, and went from being categorized as a super typhoon to a typhoon on Saturday and then a tropical storm on Sunday.

Rescue operations were underway in the affected regions on Monday, in which more than 21,000 troops have taken part, and some 400 vessels have been used to evacuate over 33,000 people.

On Sunday afternoon, the authorities said more than 6.5 million people were affected in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Fujian provinces, as well as in the city of Shanghai.

Almost 1.1 million people have been evacuated.

In Zhejiang province, where the Lekima made landfall early Saturday, more than 180,000 hectares of crops and 34,000 houses have been damaged, causing direct economic losses of some $2.2 billion.

The central government announced late Saturday a special fund of 30 million yuan ($4.2 million) to help those affected by Lekima in Zhejiang.

With winds of up to 187 kilometers per hour (116.2 miles per hour), Lekima is the ninth typhoon to hit China this year so far, and has forced the cancellation of hundreds of ferries and flights, while also cutting off several stretches of railway lines.

Dalian — one of the country's major ports, located in the northeastern province of Liaoning — suspended all maritime services, and the Disneyland theme park in Shanghai was on Saturday forced to close for the first time since it opened in 2016.

vec/sc/tw