Five dead after Typhoon Fitow slams into China

Huge waves hit the dike as Typhoon Fitow moves to make its landfall in Wenling, east China's Zhejiang province on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013. Typhoon Fitow barrelled into China's east coast on Monday, Oct 7, 2013, packing winds of more than 200km per h
Huge waves hit the dike as Typhoon Fitow moves to make its landfall in Wenling, east China's Zhejiang province on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013. Typhoon Fitow barrelled into China's east coast on Monday, Oct 7, 2013, packing winds of more than 200km per hour, after hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated and bullet train services were suspended. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - Typhoon Fitow barrelled into China's east coast on Monday, packing winds of more than 200km per hour, after hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated and bullet train services were suspended.

Two men died in Wenzhou city in Zhejiang province, the official news agency Xinhua said, while three people from the city of Ruian died of electric shocks.

One of the victims in Wenzhou, 55-year-old Ni Wenlin, died “when a strong wind blew him off a hill” late Sunday, Xinhua said, while the other, Chen Wanjie, was killed after being buried beneath his duck breeding factory.

Four other people are still missing, state media reported.

Parts of Zhejiang, which borders the commercial hub Shanghai, saw nearly 29cm of rain over 17 hours from Sunday to early Monday, while areas in Fujian to the south saw up to 16cm, the official China News Service said.

In the hard-hit county of Cangnan in Wenzhou, more than 1,200 homes collapsed and damages amounted to hundreds of millions of yuan, China National Radio said.

One of the victims, 55-year-old Ni Wenlin, died "after strong wind blew him off a hill" late on Sunday, Xinhua news agency said, citing municipal flood control authorities.

Another person died of electric shock, CCTV reported.

In Fujian, the typhoon snapped electricity poles in half, leaving power lines on the ground, and bent iron road signs out of shape, the radio reported.

In the coastal city of Ningde, a village leader told the Beijing Times that huge waves had damaged a 200-hectare (490-acre) seaweed farm, on which nearly 100 families depended for their livelihood.

At least 59 bullet trains in Zhejiang were cancelled, along with 22 flights from the provincial capital Hangzhou and 27 in Wenzhou, Xinhua said.

Sections of highways were shut and more than 350 buses from Wenzhou were cancelled.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to move northwest but weaken quickly.

But continued rainstomes were expected due to another typhoon, Danas, which was set to hit Japan's main islands on Monday.

Packing winds of up to 180kmh near its centre, Danas was battering the southern Japanese chain of Okinawa, where more than 50 flights at Naha airport were cancelled while schools were shut, according to local media.

The Japanese meteorological agency issued an alert for strong winds and high waves, while urging residents to remain on guard for floods and landslides as well as lightning and tornadoes.

Local authorities in Okinawa and Kagoshima separately issued evacuation advisories to some 6,500 households, public broadcaster NHK said.

In China, authorities had evacuated hundreds of thousands and issued the country's highest alert on Sunday as Fitow approached the mainland.

The storm was packing winds of up to 151kmh on Sunday night as it moved towards the coast.

Winds rose to 201kmh in parts of Wenzhou, Xinhua reported later, citing local flood control authorities.

Zhejiang has so far evacuated more than 574,000 people, while in Fujian 177,000 have been displaced, it said.

Two port workers in Wenzhou were missing and may have fallen into the sea, the agency added.

The storm also forced the suspension of bullet train services in several cities in Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi provinces, Xinhua said.

Wenzhou's airport cancelled 27 flights on Sunday, the agency said.

Xinhua quoted the weather centre as saying it was unusual for a typhoon to come ashore in China's southeast during October, at the end of the storm season.

Chinese maritime authorities also issued red alerts, warning of storm tides and waves. Fishermen were urged to return to port and local authorities told to prepare harbour facilities and sea walls for high tides.

In Zhejiang, more than 35,000 boats returned to harbour while in Fujian nearly 30,000 vessels were called back, according to Xinhua.

Named after a flower from Micronesia, Fitow has hit just two weeks after Typhoon Usagi wreaked havoc in the region, leaving at least 25 dead in southern China.