China issues ‘red alert’ as Typhoon Lekima bears down

Tokyo/Beijing: China’s weather bureau issued a “red alert”— its highest warning — as Typhoon Lekima barrelled towards its coast after battering southern Japan and Taiwan, where one person died.
Lekima is expected to make landfall in the coastal areas of China’s eastern Zhejiang province today, the National Meteorological Centre said, with rains beginning across the area later Friday.
Strong winds and heavy rains from the ninth typhoon of the season has disrupted transport across region.
In Japan, 68 flights and 155 ferry services in the Ryukyu Islands region were cancelled, while at least four people were injured in Okinawa prefecture, local newspaper Okinawa Times reported.
Japanese forecasters warned of high waves, torrential rains and powerful winds even though the storm has passed through the islands and was on its way towards mainland China.
Separately in Taiwan, Lekima skirted past the northern tip of the island early on Friday, bringing
heavy rains and damaging winds.
A 64-year-old man in the capital Taipei died after being knocked to the ground while cutting trees late on Thursday, according to Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Centre (CEOC).
Transport was affected, with 383 international and 138 domestic flights being cancelled and some ferry services suspended.
Damaged power poles left more than 60,000 households without electricity late Thursday, with 9,000 still waiting for power to be restored, the CEOC said.
Schools and most offices in northern Taiwan also remained closed on Friday.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau on Friday said that Lekima has weakened but warned of heavy rains in the coming days.
More than 2,500 residents in areas prone to floods have been evacuated. — dpa