China prepares for evacuation as Typhoon Lekima approaches

Typhoon Lekima expected to make landfall on Saturday, causing a surge up the Yangtze River.

    Rains from Typhoon Lekima hit Taiwan on Friday [Chiang Ying-ying/The Associated Press]
    Rains from Typhoon Lekima hit Taiwan on Friday [Chiang Ying-ying/The Associated Press]

    China is preparing for evacuations in several provinces and issuing its highest-level warning for the approaching Typhoon Lekima.

    Travelling northwest from the south of Japan and crossing over the north of Taiwan on Friday, the storm is carrying heavy rains and winds of 209km/h, according to country's National Meteorological Centre.

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    The rains have begun to batter Zhejiang province, home to 6.2 million people, and Shanghai municipality, home to 26.3 million, ahead of Lekima hitting land on Saturday morning.

    Authorities believe it will cause a powerful surge up the arterial Yangtze River that could lead to flooding in several regions.

    China's weather bureau has issued a code red, the highest level alert in its four-tiered alert system, for Zhejiang province, prompting authorities to prepare evacuations, suspend train, air and fire service and require ships to return to port.

    It advised a total of seven provinces to make preparations and have emergency response systems ready. 

    In response to the flooding threats, the Ministry of Water Resources ordered measures to prevent the overflow of levies.

    Three main streams of the Yangzte River are expected to rise to dangerous levels and officials said the flooding risk will continue until Wednesday. 

    In Shanghai, 16,000 suburban residents are set to be evacuated as the heavy rains and level-10 gales bear down on the city, the official Shanghai Daily reported.

    Travelling across the pacific 

    The storm hit several small Japanese islands on Friday before moving across the East China Sea and skirting the north of Taiwan

    On Friday, the island suspended classes and closed offices. About 40,000 homes were without power and the high-speed rail service was mostly suspended.

    China is routinely hit by typhoons in its hot summer months, but major storms have been relatively infrequent so far this year.

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    SOURCE: News agencies