Typhoon forces relocation of many thousands in Fujian

A street in Putian flooded by Nepartak. More than 250mm of rain fell in about four hours in the city early yesterday.
A street in Putian flooded by Nepartak. More than 250mm of rain fell in about four hours in the city early yesterday.PHOTO: XINHUA

Nepartak brings high winds and heavy rain, grounding high-speed trains, flights and buses

SHANGHAI • The remains of super typhoon Nepartak made landfall in China's eastern Fujian province yesterday, bringing high winds and heavy rain, and forcing the relocation of hundreds of thousands.

At least 420,000 people in four cities, including the capital Fuzhou, have been relocated urgently, state news agency Xinhua reported. More than 300 high-speed trains, almost 400 flights and nearly 5,000 buses have also been grounded.

The storm hit land in Fujian province just before 2pm local time, lashing Shishi city with winds of around 100kmh, Xinhua said.

More than 250mm of rain fell in about four hours early yesterday in the nearby city of Putian, where nearly 23,000 people have fanned out to check overstretched water-management systems, it added.

The Tropical Storm Risk forecast website had rated the typhoon as category 5, at the top of its scale, but it weakened after crossing Taiwan and hit China's Fujian province as a tropical storm. In Taiwan, the storm caused at least three deaths and more than 300 injuries.

VICTIM OF OVERDEVELOPMENT

This year, we've seen more flooding persist in urban areas... Everyone, including the government, has become aware that the entire water system has been hurt by overdevelopment.

MR KE ZHIQIANG, a leader of Green City of Rivers, an environmental advocacy group in Wuhan, on local governments allegedly neglecting drainage and filling in lakes, leaving cities exposed to greater flooding.

Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China Sea, picking up strength over warm waters and dissipating over land.

Typhoons used to kill many people in China but the government now enforces evacuations and takes precautions well in advance, which have helped save many lives.

The authorities did not say whether there had been any deaths or injuries caused by Nepartak, which was expected to worsen already severe flooding in parts of central and eastern China, particularly in the major city of Wuhan.

Before the onslaught of Nepartak, torrential rains and floods across the southern half of China have besieged cities and towns for days.

More than 160 people had died by Friday in drownings and landslides and as buildings collapsed, including 35 people buried by a landslide in the far west. Nearly two million people have been moved to safer ground as swollen rivers and lakes strained dykes and dams.

Experts and residents in areas hit by the rains have claimed that local governments had neglected drainage and filled in lakes, leaving cities exposed to greater flooding.

"This year, we've seen more flooding persist in urban areas," said Mr Ke Zhiqiang, a leader of Green City of Rivers, an environmental advocacy group in Wuhan.

"There's a systemic problem. Lakes have been shrinking - natural drainage has been damaged," Mr Ke said in a telephone interview.

"Everyone, including the government, has become aware that the entire water system has been hurt by overdevelopment."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 10, 2016, with the headline 'Typhoon forces relocation of many thousands in Fujian'. Print Edition | Subscribe