Zee Media Bureau
Beijing: Armed with gusty winds and triggering landslides and floods, the powerful typhoon Usagi struck Hong Kong and southern China coast, claiming 20 lives, reports said Monday.
As the typhoon deviated from Hong Kong, it made a landfall near the city of Shanwei in China’s Guangdong province, uprooting trees, cutting off power and transport lines, and cancelling hundreds of flights.
With winds of upto 109 miles/h and gusts reaching the speed of 132 miles/h, the typhoon Usagi, which means rabbit in Japanese, was earlier classified as a super typhoon but Chinese weather observatory said the storm had weakened from "super" typhoon status and the warning signal could be lowered before 10 am.
The storm had been a super typhoon on Saturday when it passed through the Luzon Strait separating the Philippines and Taiwan, a path likely sparing both places from the most destructive winds near its eye.
Earlier China’s National Meteorological Centre had issued its highest alert, evacuating more than 80,000 people in Fujian province and deploying 50,000 disaster-relief workers to manage the situation, a news agency reported.
In Guangdong province, a major base for Chinese nuclear power, the Daya Bay nuclear power plant just east of Hong Kong had initiated emergency response schemes, Xinhua said.
Four of the six power-generating units at the plant had been ordered to operate at reduced load.
Airlines cancelled flights to cities in southern Guangdong and Fujian, while shipping was suspended between China and Taiwan, state media said.
Intercity trains including the high-speed rail to Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong would remain suspended until Tuesday, Xinhua said.
Ferry services between Hong Kong and nearby Macau and outlying islands were suspended as the observatory reported winds as strong as 68 kph (42 mph) and warned that a storm surge and heavy rains could cause flooding in low-lying areas.
The typhoon wreaked havoc on airport schedules in Hong Kong, nearby Macau and mainland China, upsetting travel plans for many passengers who were returning home at the end of the three-day mid-autumn festival long weekend.
Hong Kong International Airport said 370 arriving and departing flights were canceled and another 64 delayed. Two of Hong Kong`s biggest airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair, canceled flights to and from the city`s airport starting at 6 pm Sunday, with plans to resume operations Monday if conditions permit.
With Agency Inputs