Thousands mobilized to deal with aftermath of Lekima

By Global Times – Xinhua Source:Global Times - Xinhua Published: 2019/8/12 18:18:40

View of the Bund in central Shanghai under the effect of Typhoon Lekima on Saturday Photo: VCG

Chinese authorities have carried out dramatic rescue efforts after the powerful Typhoon Lekima churned through the country's east coast starting from Saturday.

As of Monday, a total of 39 people died and nine remain missing after Lekima, the ninth and strongest typhoon of the year, landed at around 1:45 am Saturday in Wenling, East China's Zhejiang Province, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Lekima packed winds of 187 kilometers per hour and brought heavy rainstorms. Zhejiang is often hit by typhoons in the summer, but Lekima is among the three strongest to have hit the province in history, weather experts said.

"Lekima is like a horse with an extremely fierce temper. It rakes in so much water as it forms off the ocean. Sustained downpours pushed many rivers to very dangerous levels," said Luo Yuezhen, a top meteorologist with the Zhejiang weather service center.

In Zhejiang alone, more than 21,000 service personnel and military members have been engaged in rescue and relief efforts. They stacked sandbags, drained muddy water off the streets and rode on inflatable boats to rescue residents of the 1,600-year-old city of Linhai, where streets were completely submerged on Saturday.

Military rescue teams were called to Taizhou, Zhejiang, where a large part of the city suffered power cuts, tap water shortages and disruption of communication.

A total of 650 firefighters, soldiers, policemen and government agency staff are searching for nine people who are still missing in Shanzao village in Yongjia county. By Sunday, 23 people in the village had been confirmed dead after torrential downpours caused a landslide, blocked a river and submerged many homes.

"I heard a loud bang at around 4 am Saturday, and I climbed up to check and saw the first floor was already full of water. The water rose to the fourth floor in less than 10 minutes," said Pan Jianli, a resident.

"I was waiting for death and was so lucky to have been saved, but it's saddening to learn that so many of my folks have died," said Pan.

Xu Wenhai, a 59-year-old village official, was on his way back home when he saw his neighbor's family trying to wade through knee-deep water and escape a crumbling house. He helped the children escape but did not have time to save the mother.

In Zhejiang, nearly 1.22 million people have been rescued from their homes, and about 5 million people were affected, said the provincial flood control headquarters.

The typhoon damaged more than 189,000 hectares of crops and 36,000 houses, and the direct economic losses reached 16.6 billion yuan (about $2.3 billion), the office said.

Rescue workers search for missing people from the ruins left by a landslide caused by Typhoon Lekima in Yongjia county of East China's Zhejiang Province on Sunday. Photo: VCG

Second landing

Lekima made a second landing along the coastline of East China's Shandong Province late Sunday, packing strong winds and heavy downpours, the National Meteorological Center warned.

Cities and counties including Shouguang, Qingzhou, Changle and Linqu in Shandong have seen heavy downpours brought by Lekima, according to the Beijing News.

According to the Department of Emergency Management of Shandong Province, as of Monday morning, Lekima had killed five and left seven missing in the province, and a total of 1.65 million people are affected by the typhoon, with a financial loss of up to 1.47 billion yuan.

The coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong issued a red alert for heavy rain on Sunday. All tourist destinations have been closed to the public. In Qingdao, 127 trains and all long-distance bus services have been suspended.

At midnight Sunday, more than 20 staff members of Shouguang's education authority arrived at Tongxing village to help villagers drain the flood. At 5am on Monday, another 30 personnel from the authority arrived at villages to help settle residents. As of press time, 25 schools were being used as temporary shelters. A total of 86 school buses have been dispatched to transfer more than 6,000 villagers with the help of 1,216 teachers, according to the Beijing News.

Lekima is expected to travel through Shandong and enter the Bohai Sea.
Newspaper headline: Battling the typhoon


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