7.9 lakh evacuated as typhoon nears China

Beijing, September 1:

Nearly 790,000 people have been evacuated from China’s eastern coastal regions as they brace for Typhoon Talim which is expected to slam into the area, officials and state media said.

Talim is “probably the strongest typhoon China will experience in terms of wind this summer,” said National Meteorological Centre expert Zhang Ling. The storm churned through Taiwan, killing two people and injuring 39, as strong winds and heavy rains forced offices, schools and financial markets to close. The Taiwan Central Weather Bureau said it was 120 km south of Matsu, an island group off China’s Fujian province, at 05:15 GMT. With a radius of 250 km, Talim was swirling northwest at a speed of 16 km an hour and packing winds at its centre of up to 144 km per hour, it said. The Fujian provincial observatory issued the highest level “black alarm” signal and warned of potential landslides, flooding and severe damage to property, Xinhua news agency reported. The area was already being whipped by moderate gales and heavy rain. Officials have said Talim may wreak havoc similar to Typhoon Haitang, which ravaged east China’s Fujian and Zhejiang provinces in July and left 17 dead.

In preparation, nearly 5,00,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas in Fujian and another 2,91,000 from neighbouring Zhejiang. “Until now we have evacuated 5,00,000 people from low-lying coastal areas,” an official at the Fujian anti-flood headquarters told AFP.

All schools in the area have been ordered to remain closed until Monday, he added. Water levels in reservoirs were lowered to combat flooding. Xinhua quoted local officials as saying another 291,000 people had been moved to safety in Zhejiang while nearly 30,000 fishing boats had returned to harbour. Wang Dongfa, head of Zhejiang Meteorological Bureau, said they expected the typhoon to focus on Fujian but nevertheless warned of torrential rain in Wenzhou, Taizhou and Ningbo cities and surrounding areas. East and southeast China are prone to typhoons and have been pummelled by dozens over the past 50 years.