Monday, 23 September 2013

Typhoon Usagi kills 25 in south China

A powerful typhoon hit Hong Kong and the southern China coast on Monday with winds that blew cars off the road, crippling power lines and causing flooding and the deaths of at least 25 people.

Typhoon Usagi, the strongest storm to hit the Western Pacific this year, began pounding southern China late Sunday. More than 370 flights were cancelled, and financial markets closed for at least part of the morning. Shipping and train lines were also shut down before the Usagi weakened to a tropical depression over the southern China province of Guangdong on Monday.

Earlier on Sunday, China's National Meteorological Centre issued its highest alert, with more than 80,000 people moved to safety in Fujian province and authorities deploying at least 50,000 disaster-relief workers, state Xinhua news agency reported.

China said 25 deaths occurred in Guangdong, where the typhoon made landfall late Sunday near Shanwei with record sustained winds for the city of 109 miles per hour.

The victims included people hit by debris and others who had drowned. One man was killed by a falling window pane. Winds toppled trees, cranes and blew cars off roads in some areas, and brought down three major power lines in coastal Fujian, cutting off electricity to about 170,000 households, Xinhua said.

"It is the strongest typhoon I have ever encountered," Luo Hailing, a gas station attendant in Shanwei, told Xinhua. "So terrible, lucky we made preparations.”

On Saturday the storm had been a super typhoon when it passed between Taiwan and the Philippines, sparing both of them the brunt of the winds. However, Philippine officials said eight people were dead from drowning and landslides, and Taiwan authorities reported nine people hurt by falling trees.

The storm wreaked havoc on travel plans just as many passengers were returning home after an extended weekend for the Chinese mid-autumn festival.

More than 250 incoming and outgoing flights were canceled in Hong Kong, and an additional 200 were delayed, Airport Authority Hong Kong said. Intercity trains including the high-speed rail to Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong were suspended until Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Despite earlier warnings that the typhoon could pose a severe risk to Hong Kong, the city suffered only minimal damage and no fatalities, though dozens of trees were reported down. Seventeen people had sought medical treatment and eight of these were admitted to the hospital, according to the Hong Kong government's information services department.

The Hong Kong Exchange delayed the start of trading on securities and derivatives markets due to the typhoon.

Usagi lashed the east and south coasts of Taiwan on Saturday after slamming into the Philippines' northernmost islands, where it cut communication and power lines and triggered landslides.

Parts of Manila remained submerged Monday and classes were cancelled. Landslide deaths occurred in two villages in Zambales province west of Manila, Subic town mayor Jeffrey Khonghun said Monday, and two drowning deaths were reported previously.

Monday 23 September 2013


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