BEIJING // Southern China is bracing itself for the arrival of typhoon Megi, three days after the world's strongest storm this year left a trail of destruction in the Philippines.
Rail services in parts of China have been halted, fishermen told to stay in port and offshore oil and gas production suspended as the super typhoon heads towards the south coast. Some of the areas threatened have been engulfed by floodwaters twice already this month.
The Philippines has been left counting the cost of flattened homes, downed power lines and wrecked bridges and roads after Megi roared through.
It was the fiercest storm to strike the south-east Asian country in four years.
Despite extensive preparations, with residents in many of the most at-risk areas evacuated before Megi's arrival, the super typhoon still claimed at least 19 lives, many the result of falling trees or drowning. More than 200,000 people have been left homeless.
There were power cuts across northern parts of Luzon island as electricity lines were toppled.
Damage to rice and corn crops has been estimated at more than 100,000 tonnes and valued at 1.5 billion pesos (Dh127 million). After losing force as it travelled over the Philippines' mountainous areas, Megi has regained strength since reaching the South China Sea, becoming a category four storm.
It was yesterday reported to be packing winds of up to 187kph and, having gusted at up to 260kph, it is the most powerful typhoon the north-west Pacific has seen for two decades.
The southern Chinese provinces of Hainan, Guangdong and Fujian are most at risk, while Hong Kong and Macau are also likely to feel the effects of the typhoon, the 13th to hit China this year. Landfall is expected on Saturday, although the exact location remains unclear, with some predictions indicating it could hit Taiwan.
Meteorologists in Hong Kong issued warnings yesterday afternoon that strong winds were on their way. Waves of up to seven metres are expected off the Guangdong coast in the next two days. An "early disaster warning" has been issued by the authorities to urge the most threatened provinces to prepare for Megi's arrival.
Chinese state media reported that 2,500 fishing boats have returned to port in Hainan ahead of the super typhoon's arrival.
* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse and Reuters