A powerful typhoon that forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights made landfall on China’s eastern coast early Saturday, after veering north of Taiwan.
The storm, Typhoon Lekima, made landfall in Zhejiang province near the city of Taizhou at about 1:45 a.m., Chinese state media reported. About 700,000 people had been relocated before the storm’s arrival, with more than 100,000 moved to disaster prevention centers, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.
The typhoon was expected to move north toward Shanghai on Saturday, according to China’s National Meteorological Center. Wind speeds were measured at more than 100 mph at their peak, and heavy rain was expected along the densely populated coast. Although earlier reports said the storm had weakened, Xinhua said it made landfall as a super typhoon.
There were no official reports of casualties early Saturday. Almost 300 flights and more than 1,200 trains were canceled as the typhoon moved slowly inland, reports said.
City and county governments in northern Taiwan had canceled work and classes Friday in anticipation of heavy rainfall and strong winds from the storm. With the typhoon tracking toward the capital, Taipei, and other major cities in the area, shoppers cleared the shelves of grocery stores of fresh produce in anticipation of being stuck indoors for the day.
But Thursday night’s lashings of heavy rains had diminished to relatively light intermittent showers by Friday morning as Lekima veered north, heading toward China.
As the storm neared, China issued a red alert along the coast, the most serious of its four possible typhoon warnings. It authorizes officials to order evacuations, suspend train and air travel and force ships back to port.
Multiple flights out of cities including Shanghai and Hangzhou were canceled Friday in anticipation of the heavy rains. Several trains heading to and from the Yangtze River Delta region out of Beijing were also canceled.
The authorities in the eastern province of Shandong said torrential flooding was likely in parts of the province for several days, adding that the downpours would also help ease drought concerns and replenish reservoirs.
The maritime safety authorities in Hangzhou said that starting on Thursday, 244 passenger ships had suspended service and that 432 ships carrying hazardous materials had entered sheltered waters.
The provincial authorities in Jiangsu province said operations were underway to increase drainage of major lakes and ports in the region to bring down water levels before the rainstorms, according to local media reports.
Forecasters predicted that heavy rain and gale force winds would hit Shanghai late Friday and continue until Sunday. The Shanghai Daily reported that 16,000 people were being evacuated. Shanghai residents were seen using tape to reinforce windows.
More than 25,000 tourists were evacuated on Thursday from Putuo Mountain, southeast of Shanghai, according to local media reports.