Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

At least 18 dead as Typhoon Lekima slams into east China

Storm made landfall with winds of 187kph and is expected to travel towards Shanghai

High waves caused by Typhoon Lekima hit a sea wall in China's Zhejiang province on August 9, 2019. 
High waves caused by Typhoon Lekima hit a sea wall in China's Zhejiang province on August 9, 2019. 

At least 18 people were killed and 14 others missing as Typhoon Lekima lashed eastern China on Saturday, downing thousands of trees and forcing more than a million people from their homes.

Waves several metres high hit the coastline as the storm made landfall in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai.

The deaths were caused by a landslide triggered by the storm's downpours in the municipality of Wenzhou, around 400 kilometres south of Shanghai, national television station CCTV reported.

"Torrential rains caused a landslide on a mountain that blocked a river below," it said, adding that the resulting "dam" created a lake which swept downstream when it burst.

More than a million people were move out of their homes before the storm struck, the official Xinhua news agency reported. About 110,000 people were housed in shelters.

The monster storm made landfall in the early hours in Wenling City, packing winds of 187 kph, and was expected to churn up the east coast towards Shanghai, Xinhua added.

Footage broadcast on CCTV showed a torrent of muddy water surging through the streets and emergency workers rescuing a man trapped under rubble and fallen trees.

One street in Yueqing city, part of Wenzhou, was completely flooded.

China issued a red alert as the storm approached on Friday, before downgrading the level to orange as winds eased on Saturday morning.

Lekima has been downgraded from a super typhoon to a typhoon as it headed northwards inland.

More heavy rain was forecast for the Shanghai area and the neighbouring provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, with authorities warning of possible flash floods, mudslides and landslides caused by the downpours.

In Zhejiang province alone, nearly 300 flights were cancelled, and ferry and rail services were suspended as a precaution. Coastal businesses in Zhejiang were also shut and the Ministry of Emergency Management warned of potential risk of fire, explosions and toxic gas leaks at chemical parks and oil refineries.

The storm was predicted to reach Jiangsu province by the early hours of Sunday and veer over the Yellow Sea before continuing north and making landfall again in Shandong province, CCTV said.

Around 300,000 people were relocated in Shanghai, where the high-speed maglev train that links the city to one of its airports was suspended.

Shanghai Disneyland was also closed for the first time since the amusement park opened in 2016.

Lekima had earlier swept past the northern tip of Taiwan on Friday, where nine people were injured, thousands of homes lost power temporarily and more than 500 flights were cancelled.

In Japanm, at least four people were reported hurt in Okinawa, while flights and ferries across the southern Japanese islands experienced widespread disruptions.

Last September, Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into mainland China where authorities evacuated more than two million people, after it left a trail of destruction in Hong Kong and Macau and killed at least 59 people in the northern Philippines.

Updated: August 10, 2019 07:06 PM

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