China evacuates 865,000 as super typhoon Chan-Hom barrels towards east coast

China evacuates 865,000 as super typhoon Chan-Hom barrels towards east coast
People gather to see huge waves as typhoon Chan-hom comes near Wenling, east China's Zhejiang province on July 10, 2015.

HANGZHOU - More than 865,000 people in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have been evacuated as super typhoon Chan-Hom was predicted to make landfall between Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, blasting the regions with torrential rains and winds.

A total of 28,764 ships had been recalled to port as of 10 pm, Friday, and several cities were already reporting heavy rain and strong gales, the provincial flood, typhoon and drought headquarters said.

The typhoon's centre was 235 kilometers southeast of Zhejiang in the East China Sea and is moving northwestward at a speed of 20 km per hour. It is due to make landfall somewhere between Rui'an and Zhoushan in Zhejiang province with winds of up to 209 kilometers per hour by Saturday afternoon.

The National Meteorological Center has issued its highest alert, a red alert, on Friday because Chan-Hom, the second typhoon to hit China in two days, could be the strongest typhoon to land in Zhejiang since 1949, according to the NMC.

The strongest typhoon that has made landfall in Zhejiang so far was the Typhoon Saomai in 2006, which claimed 483 lives. It had wind speeds of 200 to 220 km/h.

The storm has disrupted traffic, and direct-shipping routes to Taiwan from Zhejiang have been suspended since Thursday. About 100 flights were cancelled Friday and some long-distance bus and train services have been suspended.

The meteorological centre said Chan-Hom's strength may ebb gradually after making landfall and moving north. It is expected to sweep across Zhejiang, Shanghai and southeast Jiangsu through Sunday afternoon, packing winds and heavy rain that will also affect neighbouring Anhui and Fujian provinces. East Zhejiang may suffer severe rains, with precipitation estimated at an extreme 250 to 300 mm per hour.

"The typhoon seems very powerful. We have sealed all our windows and doors and have stocked up on food," said Liu Yimin, from the coastal village of Huagang. Meanwhile, all of the Wenzhou City government's 53,000 flood control staff will be on stand-by over the weekend.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs required subdepartments in the affected areas to stand by round-the-clock and publish timely warnings. Residents were advised to purchase and store daily necessities for one to three days.

Shanghai took various precautions to prepare for the upcoming storm. All scheduled bullet trains on Friday and Saturday running between Shanghai and the coastal cities of Fuzhou, Xiamen, Shenzhen and Guangzhou have been suspended, along with the high-speed trains to Wenzhou and Cangnan county in Zhejiang.

Metro Line 16, which meanders through the coastal suburb of Pudong New Area, will apply speed-limiting measures to its trains running above ground, or even on the ground if winds remain lower than 62 km/h. They will be taken out of service if the winds reach 89 km/h.

In Zhejiang province, coastal cities, including Wenzhou and Taizhou, have raised the typhoon alarm to the top level, which requires all outdoor activities to cease. People living and working in dangerous areas will be evacuated, and all ships and boats must return to ports.

In Taizhou, 120,000 people, including local officials and armed police, formed 6,700 teams-an average of 18 people per team-to deal with emergencies when the typhoon hits.

Hu Yaowen, director of the Zhejiang Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Office, said the province has checked dangerous areas along the coastline to make sure that damage to local residents will be minimized.

Hu said that since the typhoon will hover over the province for two to three days, geological hazards including landslides and mudslides may become major threats.

Another typhoon, Nangka, that has formed in the northwest Pacific Ocean is expected to move northwest and is unlikely to strike the country.

Typhoon Linfa, the previous typhoon to hit China, made landfall in Guangdong province on Thursday, bringing torrential rains to the coastal area. No casualties were reported.

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