SHANGHAI • The world's strongest storm this year killed at least 10 people in China when it hit the south-east coast, the government said yesterday, as rescuers scoured flooded streets and work crews struggled to restore power to more than a million homes.
Typhoon Meranti had largely dissipated by yesterday afternoon, a day after it swept in from the Pacific Ocean, clipping the southern tip of Taiwan, and making landfall near the Chinese port city of Xiamen, in Fujian province.
The storm killed seven people in Fujian and three in the neighbouring Zhejiang province, state media and the government said. Eleven people were missing.
More than 330,000 people were returning to their homes yesterday after being forced to flee what meteorologists said was the world's biggest storm this year.
The typhoon also killed one person and injured 38 in Taiwan where people were yesterday preparing for the arrival of another storm - Typhoon Malakas, which was forecast to bring heavy rain today. The Taiwan weather bureau has issued land and sea warnings, urging people to be on the alert for severe weather and flooding.
Xinhua news agency described the storm as the most powerful to hit Fujian in at least 67 years, with meteorological records only going back to the founding of modern China in 1949.
Pictures on state media showed flooded streets, fallen trees and crushed cars in Xiamen. Three power transmission towers were blown down and utility crews were trying to restore power. Across Fujian, 1.65 million homes had no electricity, Xinhua reported.
Dozens of flights and train services were cancelled on Thursday, disrupting travel at the beginning of the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.
Typhoons are common at this time of year, picking up strength as they cross the warm waters of the Pacific and bringing fierce winds and rain when they hit land.
The landfall of Meranti came a week after a study said warming seas have strengthened the power of typhoons that often wreak havoc across China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines by 50 per cent in the past 40 years.
The researchers warned that global warming will lead the giant storms to become even stronger in the future, threatening the large and growing coastal populations of those nations, according to the Guardian.
"It is a very, very substantial increase," said Professor Wei Mei, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who led the new work.
"We believe the results are very important for East Asian countries because of the huge populations in these areas."
The research, published in Nature Geoscience on Sept 5, showed that the intensification of typhoons making landfall occurs because warmer coastal seas provide more energy to growing storms.
"The results leave little doubt that there are more high-intensity events affecting South-east Asia and China, and these are also intensifying more rapidly," said Professor Kerry Emanuel, an expert on tropical cyclones at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.