Most powerful typhoon since Haiyan wreaks havoc across Taiwan and coastal China

 

satellite image of Typhoon Meranti

Image © EUMETSAT

China and Taiwan are counting the cost of Super-Typhoon Meranti, the most powerful storm to make landfall in SE Asia since deadly Haiyan in 2013, and the strongest so far anywhere in the world this year

The typhoon season got off to a violent start in the last 24 hours as a category five typhoon – the highest rating – caused damage and evacuation across three countries in South East Asia. Super-typhoon Maranti made landfall on the China coast around Fujian Province earlier today, having already tracked across small Philippine islands in the Luzon Strait, and caused major blackouts and structural damage in Taiwan.

Maranti has hit China during a three day festival and public holiday, flooding streets, crushing cars, and forcing mass evacuations from homes and harbours in the path of the storm.

It is the strongest typhoon to hit that part of China since 1949, with winds of up to 230 miles per hour. Although wind speeds lessened after landfall, and it has since been downgraded to a category 2, they were strong enough to knock down trees and smash windows. A bizarre image was of a giant inflated moon sculpture careering down Xiamen’s city streets, dislodged from part of a display marking the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The powerful storm first brushed southern Taiwan, killing one person and injuring 44. Almost a million homes lost power, and half a million had water supply problems. Hundreds of thousands of buildings are in need of repair on Taiwan. Forewarning of the typhoon caused tens of thousands of people to be evacuated, and fishing fleets to be called back to port.

Although the Philippines avoided most of the storm, there are fears for those on some small inhabited islands in the Luzon Strait, including 3000 who live on Itbayat. It is not known yet how well they were able to either evacuate or shelter.

International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has been monitoring Meranti’s course over recent days. ShelterBox has years of experience in assisting Philippine communities during the annual hurricane seasons, and was a major aid player following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 which killed 6,300.

Alice Jefferson, from ShelterBox’s Operations team in Cornwall, UK says, ‘Meranti signals the start of a season which sees powerful storms brewing out in the Pacific, and tracking across various parts of SE Asia, particularly the hundreds of Philippine islands. For most areas Meranti came with sufficient warning for preparations to be made, but nonetheless there has been widespread damage, distress and injury.’

‘ShelterBox is standing by to see whether any Philippine islanders need our assistance, and whether their Government calls for aid. Taiwan and China have well-developed emergency provision, so it is unlikely the international community would be called to assist.’

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