SHANGHAI: Typhoon Chan-hom swiped eastern China on Saturday, paralyzing transport links and devastating farmland as authorities evacuated more than a million people, the government and state media said.
The storm, which killed five people in the Philippines earlier in the week and injured more than 20 people in Japan on Friday, made landfall at around 4:40 p.m. on an island near the city of Ningbo, which is south of Shanghai, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) said.
Chan-hom was however expected to skirt the coast before heading back out to sea rather than going further inland.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the storm, which forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and bus and rail services.
Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, has a population of almost six million people while Zhujiajian town, which took the direct hit from the typhoon, is home to around 36,000.
The NMC maintained its highest red alert for the storm despite earlier downgrading it from “super” to “strong”.
Zhejiang evacuated 1.07 million people and called its entire fishing fleet back to port, state media said. Provincial authorities said earlier that nearly 30,000 vessels had moored safely.
Powerful winds blew down trees and street signs across Zhejiang and knocked down an unoccupied building in the city of Cixi, provincial television reported.
More than 600 flights at four airports in Zhejiang were cancelled, the official Xinhua news agency said.
In Zhejiang’s Sanmen county, local television showed dozens of melons floating in a flooded field, as a farmer lamented his lost harvest. “There might be no crop this year,” he said.
Torrential rain in Taizhou city triggered a landslide which briefly blocked a road.
Typhoon to ‘brush’ Shanghai
Shanghai forecast the typhoon would “brush” within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the city late Saturday or early Sunday as it veered into the Yellow Sea, according to a local government posting on its official microblog.
The Shanghai government urged residents to stay home and cancelled several public events as rain picked up towards midday.
“We recommend everyone does their best to use ‘squatting at home’ tactics to welcome the typhoon,” it said in a statement.
More than 400 flights at the city’s two airports were cancelled, along with 330 long-distance bus journeys and several trains, according to reports.
Traffic thinned in Shanghai, though enterprising taxi drivers still cruised the streets looking for fares despite the storm, which blew branches off trees.
Chan-hom is forecast to affect a wide swathe of China, also bringing heavy rain to the eastern provinces of Fujian and Jiangsu, the NMC said.
Fujian, south of Zhejiang, has evacuated more than 30,000 people and Jiangsu over 46,000.
The typhoon is the second storm to hit China in days after severe tropical storm Linfa made landfall on the coast of Guangdong province further south.
The US government’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast that after hitting China, Chan-hom would head towards the Korean peninsula, bringing “gale-force” winds to the west coast of South Korea.