China battled yesterday to avert a disaster at a chemical plant on its northeast coast as a severe tropical storm that has killed three people in South Korea approached, state media reported.
Local residents were evacuated as workers and soldiers tried to repair a dyke protecting the Fujiahua plant in the port city of Dalian after it was breached by high waves, Xinhua news agency said.
Muifa, which has weakened from a typhoon to a severe tropical storm, was expected to make landfall in the northeastern province of Liaoning yesterday evening after China’s densely populated commercial hub Shanghai was spared a feared direct hit.
Torrential downpours and high winds unleashed by the storm have already wreaked havoc in Chinese coastal areas, as well as neighboring South Korea, sparking mass evacuations.
Tens of thousands of people living along China’s east coast were evacuated over the weekend as Muifa approached.
Chinese airlines canceled hundreds of flights and thousands of fishing boats were ordered to stay in port, but the storm passed by the city, which suffered only some power outages and minor damage.
Muifa traveled north, drenching the eastern province of Shandong, where more than 100,000 people were moved to safety yesterday and around 20,000 fishing boats were called back to port, Xinhua said.
The storm also left three people dead and one missing as it battered South Korea with strong rain and winds that toppled hundreds of power lines, signposts and trees.
Power to 320,000 houses in southwestern provinces was cut, while roads, port facilities and breakwaters were destroyed in dozens of places.
A 76-year-old fisherman was found dead on Sunday on the southern South Korean island of Wando. A man in his 40s drowned after being swept away by stormy seas in the southern port of Busan.
A 50-year-old woman was found dead yesterday after falling into a flooded stream in Hwasun in the southwest and a 65-year-old man was reported missing in Busan.
Muifa was also due to hit North Korea — which neighbors Liao-ning Province — last night.
The North is still reeling from summer downpours and floods that have killed 30 people, destroyed more than 6,750 houses and inundated more than 48,000 hectares of farmland.
Authorities in Dandong, a border city in Liaoning, have set up more than 750 temporary shelters that are capable of accommodating more than 1 million people, Xinhua reported.
Thousands of soldiers are also on standby to conduct rescue and relief work after the storm passes, it said.
Muifa has already destroyed nearly 170 houses and caused damage worth 1.9 billion yuan (US$290 million) in the eastern province of Zhejiang, where one person went missing over the weekend after a boat sank. So far, however, the storm has not caused as much damage as initially feared.
Authorities had expressed concern that Muifa could cause destruction similar to that unleashed by Typhoon Saomai in 2006, which was the worst to hit China in 50 years and killed at least 450 people.