Typhoon Lekima kills dozens in China
Thirty-two people have died and 16 more are missing after Typhoon Lekima made landfall in east China’s Zhejiang Province, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
Most of the victims were killed when torrential downpours caused a landslide in Yongjia County, which in turn blocked a river, before victims were swept away.
Xinhua reported that close to 5 million people living in the Zhejiang province were hit by the floods. Over 1 million were evacuated, according to provincial flood control headquarters.
The typhoon, the ninth to hit China this year, made landfall at 1:45 a.m. Saturday (1:45 p.m. ET Friday) in Zhejiang, according to Xinhua.
The agency said the typhoon damaged more than 173,000 hectares of crops and wrecked 34,000 houses.
“The direct economic loss amounts to $2.1 billion,” Xinhua added.
China’s National Meteorological Center warned on Sunday that Lekima was moving northwards and was expected to make a second landfall along the coastline in Shandong late Sunday, bringing strong winds and heavy downpours.
Earlier this week, Lekima was briefly classified as a “super” typhoon, before weakening somewhat.
On Friday morning, China’s National Meteorological Center issued a red typhoon alert — the highest level — meaning businesses and schools in affected areas were advised to close.
China’s Ministry of Water Resources dispatched emergency response teams to Zhejiang, Shanghai and Jiangsu provinces. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs advised people in rural areas across 10 different provinces to prepare for the storm by securing items that could be lifted by the rough winds, and urged farmers to harvest their crops ahead of the typhoon making landfall.
On Friday, local authorities in Taiwan’s capital Taipei announced that businesses and schools would be suspended due to the typhoon. Although the island was spared from the worst of the typhoon, it still saw some rain.
Lekima passed by the southern Ryukyu Islands of Japan, which include Okinawa, where locals experienced over 200mm (7.8in) of rain and winds of up to 168kph (104mph).
Lekima was the fourth typhoon in the western Pacific this week. Typhoon Wipha brought intense gales and rain to China last weekend, Typhoon Francisco made landfall in Japan on Tuesday, and Typhoon Krosa has now formed in the Pacific. The slow-moving Krosa has winds of 165 kph (102.5 mph) is expected to hit mainland Japan by the middle of next week.
Asia last saw a super typhoon in September, when Super Typhoon Mangkhut wreaked havoc across China, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Millions of residents were evacuated, and at least 54 people died.
Japan and Taiwan are generally well fortified and built to withstand storms. But annual typhoon seasons still bring chaos — last summer, Japan had the strongest typhoon in 25 years, leaving at least 10 people dead.