SHANGHAI (AFP) – At least 18 people were killed and 14 others missing as Typhoon Lekima lashed eastern China yesterday, downing thousands of trees and forcing more than a million people from their homes.
Waves several metres high hit the coastline as the storm made landfall in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai.
The deaths were caused by a landslide triggered by the storm’s downpours in the municipality of Wenzhou, around 400 kilometres south of Shanghai, national television station CCTV reported.
“Torrential rains caused a landslide on a mountain that blocked a river below,” it said, adding that the resulting “dam” created a lake which swept downstream when it burst.
More than a million people were evacuated from their homes ahead of the storm, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Some 110,000 people were housed in shelters.
The monster storm made landfall in the early hours in Wenling City, packing winds of 187 kilometres per hour, and was expected to churn up the east coast towards Shanghai, Xinhua added.
Footage broadcast on CCTV showed a torrent of muddy water surging through the streets and emergency workers rescuing a man trapped under rubble and fallen trees.
One street in Yueqing city, part of Wenzhou, was shown completely flooded.
China issued a red alert as the storm approached on Friday, before downgrading the level to orange as winds eased yesterday morning.
Lekima has been downgraded from a super typhoon to a typhoon as it headed northwards inland.
More heavy rain was forecast for the Shanghai area and the neighbouring provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, with authorities warning of possible flash floods, mudslides and landslides caused by the downpours.
In Zhejiang province alone, nearly 300 flights were cancelled, and ferry and rail services were suspended as a precaution.
Around 300,000 people were relocated in Shanghai, where the high-speed maglev train that links the city to one of its airports was suspended.
Shanghai Disneyland was also closed for the first time since the amusement park opened in 2016.