Typhoon Lekima ravages China: 33 killed, a million evacuated, thousands of flights cancelled

Typhoon Lekima approaches the Shitang Township of Wenling City in eastern China's Zhejiang province. Typhoon Lekima struck the coast south of Shanghai, knocking down houses and trees.

A typhoon in China has killed more than 30 people, forced one million to evacuate and lead to the cancellation of thousands of flights.

The death toll from Typhoon Lekima, which made landfall early Saturday in Zhejiang province, has risen to 33 people. Thirty-two people lost their lives in Zhejiang province, while sixteen people remain missing following the ninth typhoon to hit the region this year.

Another death was reported in neighbouring Anhui province.

The tropical storm brought with it wind gusts of more than 180 kilometres per hour, causing chaos to travel services across the country, including thousands of flight cancellations and the closure of rail operations.

Many of the deaths reportedly occurred in Zhejiang province, around 300 kilometres south of Shanghai, where the collapse of a natural dam caused a landslide after being hit by 160 millimetres of rain in the space of three hours.

SBS reported most of the deaths occurred in a village in Yongjia county in Wenzhou. A landslide reportedly blocked a river, which then poured into the village and killed 23 people. Nine others were unaccounted for.

Among the airlines that announced cancelled flights were Air China Ltd., China Eastern Airlines Corp. and China Southern Airlines Co., as reported by South China Morning Post

The Post added Taiwanese airlines have cancelled around 520 international and domestic flights, according to local aviation authorities.

Nearly 1.22 million people in Zhejiang have reportedly been evacuated from their homes.

Close to five million people have been affected by the typhoon, according to the provincial flood control headquarters, as reported by Xinhua.

Alongside the displacement of residents, loss of life and catastrophic damage to infrastructure, Xinhua has reported Lekima damaged 189,000 hectares of crops and 36,000 houses.

Combined, it has been predicted that the direct economic losses caused by the typhoon reached 16.6 billion yuan ($3.47 billion AUD).

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported authorities have mobilised “dramatic rescue efforts”, with more than 21,000 service personnel and militia personnel mobilised in Zheijang alone.

Their efforts have reportedly included stacking sandbags, draining muddy water off streets and riding on blow-up dinghies to evacuate residents in the 1,600-year-old town of Linhai, where streets were inundated with water on Saturday.

The media agency reported Zheijang is often hit by typhoons during Summer, however, Lekima is among the strongest to have hit the region in its history, according to weather experts.

“Lekima is like a horse with an extremely fierce temper,” Luo Yuezhen from the Zhejiang weather service told Xinhua, adding: “It rakes in so much water as it forms off the ocean.”

Sustained downpours have reportedly pushed rivers to “very dangerous levels”, according to Yuezhen.

Ahead of an expected second landing in Shandong province, the region’s air traffic management bureau said the typhoon is expected to “greatly affect traffic in local airports”, as reported by Xinhua.

A total of 47 flights have reportedly been adjusted.

The media outlet further reported that the coastal city of Qingdao has issued a red alert for heavy rain on Sunday and shut all tourist destinations to the public. Around 127 trains and all long-distance bus service have reportedly been suspended there.

Shanghai Disneyland was reportedly forced to close on Saturday.

Featured image source: AP 

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