China on high alert as Typhoon Malakas approaches

A man pushes a motorbike through a flooded street in Xiamen, in China's eastern Fujian province after Typhoon Meranti made landfall on Sept. 15, 2016. Photo: STR, AFP/Getty Images

China is bracing for its second typhoon in a week after government raised their alert to "orange" for Typhoon Malakas on Saturday, just as southeastern provinces continue to clean up after an earlier, stronger storm, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Malakas will be the 16th storm of this year's typhoon season, coming after Typhoon Meranti made landfall in Fujian province on Thursday.

Ahead of landfall, Meranti drew a "red alert" in China's warning system for severe weather that ranks red as most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue. Meranti has since caused over 16.9 billion yuan ($2.53 billion) of damage, authorities said.

Malakas is expected to bring heavy rains to the coasts of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces as well as parts of Taiwan from Saturday night to Sunday, Xinhua reported quoting China's National Meteorological Center.

Authorities had earlier on Saturday issued a "yellow" alert for Malakas, but raised it to "orange" later after it skirted Taiwan.

The typhoon is expected to whip up waves from seven to 12 meters-high off Taiwan's east coast, southern and central parts of the East China Sea, and the nearby Diaoyu Islands from Saturday to Sunday. Waves up to 4.4 meters-high are also expected in the coastal regions of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, said the center.

Support teams have been sent to Zhejiang and Fujian provinces as well as the commercial hub of Shanghai to prepare aid and relief, Xinhua said.

Before Meranti struck mainland China, dozens of flights and train services were canceled, disrupting travel at the beginning of a three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. Meranti was the strongest typhoon to hit that part of the coast since 1949, Xinhua said.

Typhoons are common at this time of year, picking up strength as they cross warm Pacific waters, and bringing fierce winds and rain when they reach land.

28 dead

That storm has killed at least 28 people in China and Taiwan and cut power to more than a million homes.

Fujian flood control authorities said 18 people died and 11 others were missing. Ten died and four were missing in neighboring Zhejiang province, Xinhua reported. More than 900 houses collapsed in Zhejiang alone, as high winds and heavy rain slammed the area.

The news agency said Meranti paralyzed several cities in southern Fujian province, including Xiamen, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou.

By Saturday morning, Taiwan local time, 2,658 people had been evacuated from New Taipei City, Taoyuan City, Yilan County and Hualien County, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center, the Central News Agency reported.

Taiwan Railways Administration suspended all services on its Pingxi Line and Shen'ao Line on Saturday, as well as services on its North Link Line and Yilan Line around the northeastern part of Taiwan.
 


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