TOKYO • Typhoon Chan-hom lashed Japan's Okinawa island chain yesterday as it pushed towards Taiwan and on to China, leaving more than 20 people injured.
Thousands were evacuated from eastern China ahead of the storm.
Earlier yesterday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said recorded gusts reached 234kmh. But the storm was slowly weakening as it headed north-west.
Taiwan was bracing itself for heavy rains and strong winds last night as Chan-hom passed north of the island.
The storm is expected to make landfall in China's Zhejiang province, about 300km north of Taiwan, by noon today, according to China's National Meteorological Centre. It may pass through Shanghai the following day.
Chan-hom had sustained winds of 173kmh, Taiwan's weather bureau said.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that the typhoon is expected to bring rainstorms and waves as high as 12m at sea.
In the Okinawa islands, trees were uprooted and buildings battered. At least 23 people were injured and 180 evacuated across the area, the Tokyo Broadcasting System reported.
The Japanese meteorological agency warned that strong winds and high waves would continue to pound the island chain, where 42,000 households have been left without power.
In Taiwan, four people were injured by falling trees.
Taiwan's stock market was closed, and schools and offices shut as heavy rainfall and fierce winds battered the north.
Troops were deployed to north-eastern areas and fishing boats were called back to ports.
Mountain communities were particularly at risk, with warnings for landslides, the authorities said.
Over 1,000 villagers were evacuated from the remote township of Chien-shih in Hsinchu county, which had been deluged with 300mm of rain by yesterday afternoon.
"The speed of winds and the amount of rainfall in the north and north-east have been on the rise in the past few hours," Taiwan's weather bureau said.
China's National Meteorological Centre issued a red alert, the highest, yesterday morning, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Nearly 20,000 people were evacuated from Zhejiang province and 20,000 fishing vessels returned to harbour for shelter, Xinhua reported, after waves reached up to 10m.
"The upcoming typhoon seems very powerful. We have sealed all our windows and doors and have stored food," said Mr Liu Yimin, a villager in coastal Huagang village.
People on coastal fish farms in Fujian province were asked to move out yesterday morning.
Chan-hom was expected to head towards the Korean peninsula after passing Shanghai.
Hot on the heels of Chan-hom is Typhoon Nangka, which is expected to churn north-west towards Japan's Ryukyu Islands in the coming days. The Japan Meteorological Agency described the intensity of the storm as very strong.
Nangka was a category four storm by yesterday evening, with category five being the highest.
It was expected to slowly weaken as it heads north-west, according to tracking site Tropical Storm Risk.
Hong Kong had been braced on Thursday for severe tropical storm Linfa, but it weakened after making landfall on the coast of the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and skirted the city late at night, making little impact.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG