Typhoon Saomai - the strongest storm to hit the country for 50 years – had wrecked more than 50,000 homes by Saturday morning and caused blackouts in several cities.

More than 190 people were still missing after the storm struck on Friday.

Saomai weakened to a tropical depression as it hit the southeast but torrential rains are forecast over the weekend in China's south stretching from coastal Zhejiang and Fujian inland to the poor rural provinces of Jiangxi and Anhui.

Wenzhou was hardest hit, at least 81 people were killed and 11 missing, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The storm caused 4.5 billion yuan ($560 million) in damage in the coastal city, 18,000 houses were flattened.

In Cangnan County on Wenzhou's outskirts, 43 bodies including those of eight children were found in the debris of collapsed houses where they had tried to shelter from the storm, Xinhua said.

Disaster aid

More than 20,000 soldiers and paramilitary police are being sent to carry out for relief operations and the government announced it was allocating 166 million yuan ($21 million) in disaster aid to regions hit by Saomai and other recent weather disasters.

Much of the area is still recovering from Tropical Storm Bilis, which killed more than 600 people last month, many of them in mountain villages and other inland areas.

In Fujian, power was knocked out in the cities of Fuding, Xiapu, Zherong, Fu'an and Ningde, state media said.

More than 32,000 houses were wrecked in Fujian, Xinhua said.

Saomai was the eighth major storm to hit China this year.