China braces for Typhoon In-Fa as it cleans up flood damage

In-Fa is forecast to make landfall late Sunday (July 25) in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang near Shanghai. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (AFP) - China shut down ports and railways on Saturday (July 24) as it braced itself for Typhoon In-Fa as parts of the country struggled to recover from devastating floods earlier this week.

In-Fa is forecast to make landfall late on Sunday in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang near Shanghai, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Chinese authorities have issued a level III alert - the third-highest - for the storm, while more than 100 trains travelling through the region have been cancelled, according to China Railway.

Shanghai authorities closed some public parks and museums and warned residents on Saturday to "stop large-scale outdoor gatherings" and to stay indoors.

Meanwhile, all container ship docks were shut down from Yangshan Port south of Shanghai and 150 vessels including passenger ships and cargo vessels were evacuated from the area.

In central China's Henan province, where historic floods this week have now killed at least 58 people, the authorities are gradually clearing and reopening roads blocked with vehicles and debris.

Millions have been affected by the floods, with some trapped without fresh food or water for days and others lifted to safety in excavator buckets.

More than 495,000 people have been evacuated, according to the Henan government, with the flooding causing billions of dollars in losses.

Henan emergency response official Li Changxun warned on Saturday that the province would need to undertake large-scale cleaning and disinfecting to "ensure the disaster is not followed by an epidemic".

Photos published by state media and government social media accounts Saturday showed rescue workers continuing to shovel mud and remove uprooted trees across the province.

Torrential downpours dumped a year's worth of rain in just three days this week on the hardest-hit city of Zhengzhou, where at least a dozen people died inside a subway train during Tuesday's rush hour after floodwaters trapped passengers in their carriages.

State media warned that In-Fa could bring more torrential downpours to parts of the province in the coming days.

China has suffered an annual flood season for millennia, but the record rainfall in Henan has prompted questions about how China's cities could be better prepared for freak weather events, which experts say are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.

Henan province is striated by rivers, dams and reservoirs, many constructed decades ago to manage the flow of floodwater and irrigate the agricultural region, but rapid urban sprawl has strained existing drainage systems.

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