A POWERFUL typhoon that slammed into southern China with winds strong enough to blow cars off the road is continuing to cause fatalities, with the death count now standing at at least 33.
Typhoon Usagi, which was the season’s strongest storm at its peak, forced hundreds of flight cancellations and shut down shipping and train lines before weakening to a tropical depression over the southern Chinese province of Guangdong yesterday.
Official sources in China said 25 deaths occurred in Guangdong, where the typhoon made landfall late on Sunday near Shanwei with record sustained winds for the city of 109mph.
On Saturday the storm had been a super typhoon when it passed between Taiwan and the Philippines, sparing both of them the brunt of the winds.
However, Philippine officials said eight people were dead from drowning and landslides, and Taiwan authorities reported nine people hurt by falling trees.
The storm disrupted travel plans just as many passengers were returning home after an extended weekend for the Chinese mid-autumn festival.
More than 250 incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled in Hong Kong, and an additional 200 were delayed, Airport Authority Hong Kong said. Intercity trains including the high-speed rail to Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong were suspended, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing-based Air China cancelled 148 flights to and from Hong Kong, Macau and five nearby mainland cities. China Southern Airlines, based in Guangzhou, cancelled all flights to and from Hong Kong and three mainland airports.
At least 13 of the 25 victims in China were killed in worst-hit Shanwei city, where winds blew cars off the road near a petrol station and houses were toppled, Xinhua said. One county’s electricity and water supply were cut off.
In Hong Kong, dozens of trees were reported blown down and 17 people were given medical treatment, with eight of them admitted to hospital, according to the Hong Kong government’s information services department.
China’s National Meterological Centre said the typhoon would continue to weaken as it moved north-west and brought heavy rains later Monday and overnight to five southern provinces.
In the Philippines, parts of the capital remained submerged yesterday and classes at school and colleges were cancelled. The landslide deaths occurred in two villages in Zambales province west of Manila, Subic town mayor Jeffrey Khonghun said. Two drowning deaths were reported previously.
The typhoon landed near the city of Shanwei in the Chinese province of Guangdong, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) northeast of Hong Kong, and was moving west-northwest at 14 mph, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
Ferry services between Hong Kong and nearby Macau and outlying islands were suspended as the observatory reported strong winds and warned that a storm surge and heavy rains could cause flooding in low-lying areas.
Police in Shanwei ordered more than 8,000 fishing boats to return to port and more than 1,200 residents were taken to temporary shelters, Xinhua news agency reported.