Typhoon Lekima: China death toll rises to 44
More than a million people have fled their homes to escape flooding and landslides
The death toll from Typhoon Lekima has climbed to 44 in China, with a further 16 people missing, according to reports.
Around five million people in China’s eastern Zhejiang province have been affected by the storm so far, with a million evacuated to disaster avoidance and resettlement sites.
The Chinese weather bureau issued a red alert before Lekima made landfall in the region on Saturday, bringing heavy rain and 116mph winds.
Many of the deaths occurred after a natural dam collapsed following 6.2ins of rainfall in just three hours, reports Reuters.
On Sunday, the typhoon swept northwards along the coast, passing through the financial hub of Shanghai before hitting the coastal province of Shandong. Around 180,000 people were evacuated from Shandong, according to the regional Emergency Management Bureau.
All tourist resorts in the province’s popular Qingdao region were closed after a red alert was issued, with trains and long-distance bus services suspended, reports Reuters.
Chinese officials have put the national financial cost of the typhoon at 18 billion yuan (£2.1bn), with more than 36,000 homes and 364,000 hectares of crops damaged.
Before hitting China, the storm wreaked devastation in Taiwan and Japan’s southern Ryukyu Islands, where Lekima was temporarily upgraded last Thursday to a “super” typhoon - one that reaches sustained wind speeds of at least 120mph.
In Taiwan, more than 300 flights and most of the island’s high-speed rail services were cancelled last week, reports The Guardian. Markets and schools closed, and more than 40,000 homes were without power.
Lekima is the ninth typhoon to hit China so far this year, and local weather experts say it is among the three strongest typhoons that Zhejiang has ever experienced, reports the BBC.
The storm is expected to weaken as it leaves the Shandong coast and heads over the ocean east of Beijing.