China has issued a red alert and suspended dozens of train services as the country’s eastern coast braces for Typhoon Lekima.
As of Friday morning, the storm has winds of 215kmh (133.5mph), making it the equivalent of a category 4 hurricane. It is moving northwest at a speed of 26kph.
The storm — which was briefly a “super” typhoon on Thursday before it weakened into a regular typhoon — is currently near Taiwan’s northern tip, and is set to hit Zhejiang Province on China’s east coast early Saturday morning local time. When it hits, it is expected to be equivalent to category 2 hurricane with winds around 150-160kmh.
Southern Zhejiang will be most affected by the winds, but other coastal areas — including areas north of Shanghai — are at risk from heavy rain and floods.
On Friday morning, China’s National Meteorological Center issued a red typhoon alert — the highest level — meaning businesses and schools in affected areas are advised to close. In Zhejiang’s Taizhou city, where the storm is expected to make landfall, 4,900 fishing boats have returned to ports and scenic spots have been shut, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Shanghai Railway has suspended all trains on 16 routes — mainly between Shanghai and Guangzhou in southern China — until Sunday. A further 29 routes between major southwestern cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing will also be suspended over the weekend, China Railway Chengdu Corporation announced.
China’s Ministry of Water Resources has dispatched emergency response teams to Zhejiang, Shanghai and Jiangsu provinces. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has advised people in rural areas across 10 different provinces to prepare for the incoming storm by securing items that could be lifted by the rough winds, and urged farmers to harvest their crops ahead of the typhoon making landfall.
On Friday, local authorities in Taiwan’s capital Taipei announced that businesses and schools would be suspended due to the typhoon. Although the island will be spared from the worst of the typhoon, it will still see some rain.