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Typhoon Fitow slams into China

07 october 2013, 19:45
0
©AFP
©AFP
Typhoon Fitow barrelled into China's east coast early Monday, packing winds of more than 200 kilometres an hour after hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated, AFP reports citing state media.

At least two people were reported killed, both near Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, the state news agency Xinhua said.

Parts of Zhejiang, which neighbours the commercial hub Shanghai, saw nearly 29 centimetres (11 inches) of rain over 17 hours from Sunday to early Monday, while areas in Fujian to the south saw up to 16 centimetres, the official China News Service said.

In the hard-hit Cangnan county in Wenzhou, more than 1,200 homes collapsed and damages amounted to hundreds of millions of yuan, China National Radio said.

One of the victims, 55-year-old Ni Wenlin, died "after strong wind blew him off a hill" late Sunday, Xinhua said, citing municipal flood control authorities.

In Fujian the typhoon broke electricity poles in half, leaving power lines on the ground, and bent iron roadsigns out of shape, CNR reported.

In the coastal city of Ningde, a village leader told the Beijing Times that huge waves had damaged a 200-hectare (490-acre) seaweed farm, which nearly 100 families depended on for their livelihood.

The typhoon "broke the bamboo poles holding the seaweed in place", said Lin Fangqin.

The storm is expected to move northwest but "weaken quickly", Xinhua said on Monday, citing the National Meteorological Centre (NMC).

Authorities evacuated hundreds of thousands of people and issued China's highest alert on Sunday as Fitow approached the mainland.

The NMC issued a red alert for the storm, which was packing winds of up to 151 kilometres (94 miles) an hour late Sunday night as it moved towards the coast.

Winds rose to 201 km per hour in parts of Wenzhou, the official Xinhua news agency reported later, citing local flood control authorities.

Zhejiang has so far evacuated more than 574,000 people, while in Fujian 177,000 have been displaced, Xinhua said.

Two port workers in Wenzhou were missing and may have fallen into the sea, the agency added.

Zhejiang governor Li Qiang urged local authorities to increase inspections of dams and reservoirs as well as safety checks of chemical plants and other important facilities, Xinhua reported.

The storm also forced the suspension of bullet train services in several cities in Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi provinces, Xinhua said.

Wenzhou's airport cancelled 27 flights Sunday, the agency said.

Xinhua quoted the weather centre as saying it was unusual for a typhoon to come ashore in China's southeast during October, at the end of the storm season.

Chinese maritime authorities also issued red alerts, warning of storm tides and waves, with fishermen urged to return to port and local authorities told to prepare harbour facilities and sea walls for high tides.

In Zhejiang more than 35,000 boats returned to harbour while in Fujian nearly 30,000 vessels were called back, according to Xinhua.

Named after a flower from Micronesia, Fitow has hit just two weeks after Typhoon Usagi wreaked havoc in the region, leaving at least 25 reported dead in southern China.

Fitow, which Xinhua described as the 23rd storm to hit China this year, earlier passed through Japan's southern Okinawan island chain, forcing flight cancellations and causing power outages.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau had issued a warning over the storm Sunday morning as it surged past the north of the island.

A total of 103 international flights were cancelled in Taiwan, while 14 flights were delayed. Seventeen ferry services between Taiwan and offshore islands were also halted.

Japan was bracing for another storm Monday, Typhoon Danas, which is on course to hit the archipelago.

Packing winds of up to 180 kilometres (112 miles) per hour near its centre, Danas was churning northwest towards the southern Okinawa island chain Monday morning.

More than 50 flights at Naha airport were cancelled while schools in Okinawa were shut, according to local media.

It was estimated to be 200 kilometres south of Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, at 0200 GMT and was expected to reach a point off the western coast of Kyushu island by early Tuesday.

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