Typhoon Lekima: Red alert issued as 120mph storm bears down on east coast of China

Battle against weather system enters ‘most critical stage’, Chinese authorities say

Alessio Perrone
Friday 09 August 2019 14:14 BST
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China has issued its top warning as winds of up to 130mph are expected to thrash the coastal Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai.

Authorities have issued a red alert over Typhoon Lekima, which is also expected to bring heavy rains.

Offices and schools were closed in Taiwan on Friday as the storm passed northeast of the island. Lekima will make landfall in China on Saturday.

Che Jun, the secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China and top official in the province, said the fight against Typhoon Lekima had “entered the most critical stage”, according to China Daily.

The red alert China issued is the most serious in its four-tiered alert system, prompting authorities to prepare evacuations, suspend train and air travel and call for vessels to return to port.

In Zhejiang, ferry services have been cancelled and more than 200 tourists evacuated from popular Beiji island.

Video posted on the Chinese social network Sina Weibo shows fierce winds toppling vans and sweeping the streets, bending trees and lifting bins.

China’s flood control and drought relief headquarters warned local authorities in seven provinces including Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangsu and Shanghai municipality to make preparations and have emergency response systems ready to be deployed.

In Zhejiang, nearly 5,000 fishing boats have been recalled to port, according to reports.

Heavy rainfall is predicted to fall in the eastern part of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, the longest in Asia, between 9 and 14 August.

An intense storm surge is expected to raise waters in the estuary of the Yangtze beginning on Friday.

Three main streams of the Yangtze are likely to exceed alert levels, and the commission overseeing the river for the ministry of water resources has ordered efforts to prevent floods and over-saturation of levees along the river's banks.

According to Nasa, Typhoon Lekima briefly strengthened into a “super typhoon” on Thursday before hitting Taiwan, with winds reaching 150 mph, but it was later downgraded.

China’s National Meteorological Centre said Lekima was gusting at 130mph and travelling north-westerly at 8mph.

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Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau put the winds at 108mph and said the bands of wind and rains around the storm’s eye were shrinking.

Zhejiang province has a population of 57 million, similar to that of the UK. Shanghai is home to an additional 26 million.

Additional reporting by AP

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