Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Deadly typhoon blows into China

Dark clouds hang low over Hong Kong's Victoria Habour as the year's most powerful typhoon approaches (AP)
Dark clouds hang low over Hong Kong's Victoria Habour as the year's most powerful typhoon approaches (AP)

A powerful typhoon that slammed into southern China with winds that blew cars off the road has caused more deaths, bringing the toll in Asia to at least 33.

Typhoon Usagi, which was the season's strongest storm at its peak, forced hundreds of flight cancellations and shut down shipping and train lines before weakening to a tropical depression over the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Monday.

China said 25 deaths occurred in Guangdong, where the typhoon made landfall late Sunday night near Shanwei with record sustained winds for the city of 109mph.

On Saturday the storm had been a super typhoon when it passed between Taiwan and the Philippines, sparing both of them the brunt of the winds. However, Philippine officials said eight people were dead from drowning and landslides, and Taiwan authorities reported nine people hurt by falling trees.

The storm wreaked havoc on travel plans just as many passengers were returning home after an extended weekend for the Chinese mid-autumn festival.

More than 250 incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled in Hong Kong, and an additional 200 were delayed, Airport Authority Hong Kong said. Intercity trains including the high-speed rail to Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong were suspended until Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

At least 13 of the 25 victims in China were killed in worst-hit Shanwei city, where winds blew cars off the road near a petrol station and houses were toppled, Xinhua said. One county's electricity and water supply were cut off.

In Hong Kong, dozens of trees were reported down and 17 people had sought medical treatment, with eight of them admitted to hospital, according to the Hong Kong government's information services department.

China's National Meteorological Centre said the typhoon would continue to weaken as it moves north-west and bring heavy rains later on Monday and overnight to five southern provinces.

In the Philippines, parts of the capital remained submerged and classes were cancelled. The landslide deaths occurred in two villages in Zambales province west of Manila, Subic town mayor Jeffrey Khonghun said. Two drowning deaths were reported previously.

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