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Typhoon death toll up to 295

From the AFP:

BEIJING (AFP) — The official death toll in China from Typhoon Saomai jumped to 295 Tuesday as fishing families grieving the loss of loved ones said authorities were no help and had covered up the number of fatalities.

Days after Saomai had passed, the toll kept climbing as more bodies of drowned fishermen were discovered in coastal villages near the city of Fuding in the southeastern province of Fujian, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

In and around Fuding alone, a total of 178 people had been confirmed killed, Xinhua said, adding that with another 94 missing from the devastated community, the toll was likely to go on rising.

"On Monday alone 59 bodies were discovered in seawater off Shacheng harbor," Xinhua quoted Fuding vice-mayor Cai Meisen as saying.

It cited officials at Fujian's flood control and drought relief headquarters as saying most of the people were killed when Saomai broke the moorings on ships that had sought shelter in the harbor.

Locals, meanwhile, were adamant the carnage in the area had claimed far more lives than officially disclosed.

"They've already recovered hundreds of bodies from the sea," a Shacheng businessman surnamed Liu told AFP by telephone.

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