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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Typhoon Saola Makes Landfall in Guangdong

Typhoon Saola landed in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong early on Saturday as violent winds lashed nearby Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Macau, leaving at least one dead and a trail of destruction and flooding in many areas. The Asian financial hub of Hong Kong and China’s neighboring populous province of Guangdong canceled hundreds of flights on Friday. It shut businesses, schools, and financial markets as Saola – one of the strongest storms to menace the region in decades – edged closer. But the typhoon delivered only a glancing blow to the particular administrative regions, after which it weakened and moved inland.

The ninth typhoon of the year slammed into an outlying district of Zhuhai city in southern Guangdong at around 3:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, packing a maximum wind speed of 160 kilometers per hour. The intense storm churned in a west-by-south direction along the coastline of Guangdong and was expected to weaken further before moving out to sea. According to the provincial meteorological observatory, the typhoon caused significant damage in the southern coastal cities and towns, with hundreds of homes damaged by high waves, landslides, and ripped-off roofs. About 900,000 people in the region had been evacuated from at-risk areas, and most of the area’s commercial transport and classes were suspended as the storm loomed.

But the most devastating impact came from Saola’s torrential rain, with flooded roads and homes swept away by the heavy surge of waters and winds. The storm also triggered several power outages, leaving millions without electricity.

Some of Hong Kong’s newest and most expensive residential developments were severely hit, with residents forced to leave their homes as the wind and water battered them. The shattered windows of high-rise buildings were seen across the city, with the images quickly spreading on social media. The city’s observatory raised its highest hurricane storm warning level to 10, which has only been issued 16 times since World War II.

By Saturday afternoon, 460 flights had been canceled at the city’s airport, and most of the territory’s schools had postponed their start dates. The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the stock market remained closed, and all 80,000 fishing vessels in the province were ordered to return to port.

Railway operations were gradually allowed to resume in Guangdong on Saturday morning, with some trains being reopened, the railway operator said. China’s central government warned citizens to remain vigilant against the storm and avoid dangerous areas.

In the southern city of Lufeng, the government has deployed nearly 2,000 soldiers to protect the public and clear debris. The army will also provide shelter to stranded residents and check whether roads are passable. The local meteorological office said more than 4 inches of rain had fallen since Thursday, and authorities urged people to be careful about landslides and flash floods. The city’s main hospital has been evacuated, and doctors at all its other hospitals have been sent home.

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