China has shut down railways and ports, with cargo ships ordered out of the sea and flights cancelled, before Typhoon In-Fa’s expected landfall.
The storm is projected to hit the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang near Shanghai late on Sunday, just as other parts of the country struggle to recover from devastating floods earlier this week.
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In-Fa had sustained winds of 155km per hour (95 miles per hour) with gusts up to 191kmph (120mph) as it moved northwest away from Taiwan, where it caused high waves and heavy rain but there were no reports of deaths or injuries.
Schools, markets and businesses in Zhejiang were ordered to close, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that road traffic would be suspended when necessary.
Authorities have issued a level III alert – the third-highest – for In-Fa, while more than 100 trains travelling through the region have been cancelled, according to China Railway.
Shanghai authorities closed some public parks and museums and warned residents on Saturday to “stop large-scale outdoor gatherings” and to stay indoors.
The airport in the provincial capital of Hangzhou, southwest of Shanghai, cancelled 90 percent of flights on Sunday and was expected to cancel more on Monday, the newspaper Zhejiang Daily reported on its website.
Meanwhile, all container ship docks were shut down from Yangshan Port south of Shanghai and 150 vessels including passenger ships and cargo vessels were evacuated from the area.
In central China’s Henan province, where historic floods this week have now killed at least 58 people, authorities are gradually clearing and reopening roads blocked with vehicles and debris.
Millions have been affected by the floods, with some trapped without fresh food or water for days and others lifted to safety in excavator buckets.
More than 495,000 people have been evacuated, according to the Henan government, with the flooding causing billions of dollars in losses.
Henan emergency response official Li Changxun warned on Saturday that the province would need to undertake large-scale cleaning and disinfecting to “ensure the disaster is not followed by an epidemic”.
Photos published by state media and government social media accounts on Saturday showed rescue workers continuing to shovel mud and remove uprooted trees across the province.
Torrential downpours dumped a year’s rain in just three days this week on the hardest-hit city of Zhengzhou, where at least a dozen people died inside a subway train during Tuesday’s rush hour after floodwaters trapped passengers in their carriages.
State media warned that In-Fa could bring more torrential downpours to parts of the province in the coming days.
China has suffered an annual flood season for millennia, but the record rainfall in Henan has prompted questions about how China’s cities could be better prepared for freak weather events, which experts say are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.
Henan province is striated by rivers, dams and reservoirs, many constructed decades ago to manage the flow of floodwater and irrigate the agricultural region, but rapid urban sprawl has strained existing drainage systems.