China evacuates ten of thousands as it braces for Typhoon Chan-hom

The super typhoon lashed Japan's Okinawa island chain on Friday, as it moved towards Taiwan. It is expected to make landfall in China in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Giant waves crash into the coastline next to National Taiwan Ocean University in Keelung as Typhoon Chan-hom brings rain to northern Taiwan on July 10, 2015. Sam Yeh/AFP Photo
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BEIJING // China had evacuated tens of thousands of people, cancelled scores of trains and flights and shuttered seaside resorts on Friday as a super typhoon with wind gusts of over 200 kilometres per hour headed toward the country’s southeastern coast.

China’s national weather service said that Typhoon Chan-hom was expected to make landfall by the early hours of Saturday in either the province of Fujian or Zhejiang, and issued its highest-level alert.

Chan-hom lashed Japan’s Okinawa island chain on Friday, leaving more than 20 people injured. The storm killed five people in the Philippines as it swept through from Tuesday, including three children, after heavy rains caused flooding of up to a metre deep. 1,500 people were also displaced.

The powerful typhoon was moving north-west of the Japanese island of Miyako on Friday afternoon with recorded gusts of 234 kph, Japan’s meteorological agency said.

The typhoon was expected to keep moving northward, bringing rainstorms and waves as high as 12 metres at sea.

As trees were uprooted and buildings battered in Okinawa, at least 23 people were injured and 180 evacuated across the area.

The meteorological agency warned on Friday that strong winds and high waves would continue to pound the island chain where 42,000 households had been left without power.

Chan-hom also began to bear down on Taiwan on Friday, where the weather bureau categorised it as a “severe typhoon”.

Four people in Taiwan were injured, all of them by falling trees.

The island’s stock market was closed, along with schools and offices as heavy rainfall and fierce winds battered the north.

Troops were deployed to northeastern areas and fishing boats called back to ports.

Mountain communities were particularly at risk with the authorities issuing warnings over landslides. More than 1,000 villagers were evacuated from the remote township of Chien-shih in Hsinchu county which had been deluged with 300mm of rain by Friday afternoon.

The storm was due to pass northern Taiwan overnight before making landfall in China.

Zhejiang’s civil affairs bureau said that nearly 60,000 people had been evacuated from coastal areas. Meanwhile, more than 100 trains between the region’s cities were cancelled through to Sunday.

In the seaside city of Zhoushan, all flights in and out of its airport were cancelled, while all bus services and speedboat ferry services were halted. Several tourist spots were also closed. In the nearby port city of Ningbo, 23 flights were cancelled.

Several cities also announced the suspension of intercity bus services.

Southern China was struck by another typhoon earlier this week. Typhoon Linfa displaced 56,000 people in the southern province of Guangdong.

* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse