The threat posed by Typhoon Megi’s appeared to ease yesterday as it approached southern China, but residents continued to take precautions for a storm that killed 27 people and damaged thousands of homes when it slammed into the northern Philippines.
Megi was located 450km southeast of Hong Kong late yesterday morning, generating winds of 175kph — much weaker than the winds of 225kph it inflicted on the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
While traveling north over the South China Sea, Megi was expected to gain momentum today then slow down tomorrow just before it strikes southern Guangdong Province, according to the observatory.
However, officials and residents in the region remained wary given the destruction Megi wrought earlier in the week. In the Philippines, where more than 330,000 people were affected and 11,000 fled to evacuation centers, officials said. About US$110 million worth of infrastructure and crops were destroyed and nearly 5,000 houses damaged, according to the government’s disaster--response agency.
China has evacuated at least 160,000 people from the projected path of Typhoon Megi, authorities said yesterday as they braced for the strongest northwest Pacific storm since 1990.
More than 150,000 people have been evacuated in Fujian province in China’s southeast and at least another 10,000 in neighboring Guangdong Province, authorities there said.
More than 48,000 fishing boats have returned to harbor in Guangdong, the state flood control office said on Wednesday, while a Red Cross official warned about the risk of landslides. Officials are moving residents to high ground and shelters like schools, according to Wu Xiaoyi, the Red Cross’ head of disaster relief in Guangdong.
Chinese authorities on Wednesday also halted rail services in some areas as they awaited Megi.
In Hong Kong, while the weather was hazy and dry yesterday, residents in a suburban village known for its coastal homes on stilts hunkered down. Villagers in Tai O installed metal barricades and moved electrical appliances refrigerators and washing machines to higher ground, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper reported yesterday.
In Hainan Province southwest of Hong Kong, 26,000 fishing boats returned to harbor and officials also prepared tents, flashlights, food and disinfectant, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said yesterday that Typhoon Megi was unlikely to make landfall, but warned residents in southern and eastern Taiwan to brace for heavy rains and landslides.
It also cautioned ships off the southern and western parts of the island to be on the lookout out for rough seas.
Megi’s impact was also felt as far away as Japan, where it contributed to heavy rains that triggered floods and landslides in southern Kagoshima Prefecture. Two women in their 80s and 90s were killed as their nursing home was swept away, local police officials said.
Another woman in her 80s was missing after her home was crushed by landslides.
Separately, in Bangkok, officials were on guard for flooding as raging waters from annual monsoon rains were due to sweep down the Chao Phraya River into the Thai capital. Bangkok Deputy Governor Porntep Techaipaibul said that officials have prepared more than 4 million sandbags.