China issues red alert as super typhoon Lekima approaches mainland

The alert was issued after Typhoon Lekima forced flight cancellations in Taiwan and shut down markets and businesses on the island.
The alert was issued after Typhoon Lekima forced flight cancellations in Taiwan and shut down markets and businesses on the island.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SHANGHAI/TAIPEI (REUTERS) - China's weather bureau issued a red alert early on Friday (Aug 9) as super typhoon Lekima approached Zhejiang province on the eastern coast, after forcing flight cancellations in Taiwan and shutting markets and businesses on the island.

The National Meteorological Centre said the typhoon, the strongest since 2014, was expected to hit the mainland early on Saturday and then turn north. It has issued gale warnings for the Yangtze river delta region, which includes Shanghai.

Taiwan cancelled flights and ordered markets and schools to close on Friday as the typhoon headed north-west, cutting power to more than 40,000 homes and forcing the island's high-speed rail to suspend most of its services.

The island's authorities issued landslide warnings after an earthquake of magnitude 6 struck its north-eastern coast on Thursday, hours before the typhoon approached, which was forecasted to bring rainfall of up to 900mm in its northern mountains.

More than 300 flights to and from Taiwan have been cancelled, and cruise liners have been asked to delay their arrival in Shanghai. Some trains from Shanghai have also suspended ticket sales over the weekend.

Heavy rain and level-10 gales are expected to hit Shanghai on Friday and continue until Sunday, with 16,000 suburban residents set to be evacuated, the official Shanghai Daily reported.

China's Ministry of Water Resources has also warned of flood risks in the eastern, downstream sections of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers until Wednesday.

China is routinely hit by typhoons in its hot summer months but weather officials said last week that they have been relatively infrequent so far this year.