Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Southern China braces for typhoon

Ships have been docked at a port in Haikou, in south China's Hainan province, before the arrival of Typhoon Megi

Residents stockpiled food and ships were ordered to dock as southern China braced for a typhoon that has already lashed the northern Philippines amid floods that have killed more than 70 people across Asia.

Typhoon Megi packed winds of 140 miles per hour when it struck the Philippines on Monday. Officials reported 20 deaths, including several people who drowned after being hit by fallen trees. The storm damaged thousands of homes and flooded vast areas of rice and corn fields.

Late on Wednesday, Megi was about 350 miles south east of the southern financial hub of Hong Kong and expected to eventually hit the southern Chinese coast, the Hong Kong Observatory said on its website.

The storm's winds have weakened to 110 mph, but are expected to build strength over the next two days before losing steam again on Saturday, when the typhoon is projected to make landfall in China's Guangdong province, the observatory said.

In Guangdong, officials have ordered all fishing boats back to shore, put the provincial flood control headquarters on alert and warned that reservoirs should be watched, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday. In the southern island province of Hainan, residents rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food, vegetables and bottled water, the agency said.

In Hong Kong, the mood was calmer in the densely populated city of 7 million whose infrastructure has traditionally held up well against the annual summer barrage of typhoons. Still, the Hong Kong Observatory urged residents to make sure their windows could be properly bolted, avoid the coastline and refrain from water sports. It also ordered small vessels to return to shore.

In the Philippines, more than 215,000 people were affected by the typhoon, including 10,300 people who fled to evacuation centres, officials said.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, where recent flooding from a different weather system has killed at least 45 people over the past week, soldiers and police found a bus that was carrying dozens of people when it was washed away by flood waters, disaster officials said. It was located on a river bed, half a mile downstream from where it was yanked off the road. Twenty people who failed to escape the bus before it was inundated are missing, presumed dead.

Up to 4.5 feet of rain has pounded the region over the past week, submerging more than 220,000 houses and forcing more than 173,000 people to flee their homes, according to the national flood and storm control committee.

In Thailand, floods have killed nine people since the weekend. Those waters were due to sweep down the Chao Phraya river into the capital, Bangkok, late on Wednesday.

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