Typhoon Lekima batters eastern China
At least 48 people have been killed and several people remain missing after a typhoon made landfall in eastern China. Typhoon Lekima swept along the coast south of Shanghai, causing hundreds of homes to collapse. The typhoon struck on Saturday morning, 10 August 2019, the intense flooding and threat of landslides prompted over a million people to leave their homes. With the strength equivalent to a powerful Category 3 hurricane, the powerful typhoon barrelled onshore near Shitangzhen, in the province of Zhejiang, around 1h45am local time on Saturday. At least 48 people have been killed in eastern China as of Monday evening, 12 August 2019, according to China Daily.
Many lives were lost in a tragic landslide, triggered by Lekima, in a village in Zhejiang's Yongjia County. After a landslide initially blocked a river, water built up and then broke through the earthen dam. The roughly 120 people in the village did not have time to safely evacuate before the floodwaters swept downstream.
Officials told China Global Television Network (CGTN) that the water level rose up to 10 metres within 10 minutes. In the aftermath of the storm, Shandong authorities estimated that the typhoon caused direct economic losses of 1,5 billion yuan ($212 million). Much of that loss is due to the destruction of crops.
In anticipation of Lekima's landfall, the Chinese weather bureau issued a red alert on Friday morning, warning residents of the threat for strong winds, heavy rainfall and coastal impacts. The country has a four-stage color-coded warning system, with red representing the most severe weather.
More than one million people in eastern China evacuated ahead of the typhoon. That included about 250 000 residents in Shanghai and another 800 000 in neighbouring Zhejiang, according to BBC News.
The typhoon's powerful winds caused an estimated 2,7 million homes in the area to lose power.
Lekima prompted officials to close Shanghai Disneyland on Saturday, Xinhua reported. That is the first time the park has shut down due to weather since opening in June 2016. Winds at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport gusted to 55 mph (89 km/h) on Saturday, which forced the cancellation of thousands of flights across the region, according to FlightAware, including nearly 2 000 from the two major airports in Shanghai on Saturday.