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Thousands evacuated as Typhoon Megi closes in on China

Heavy rain in southern Japan kills three
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 21, 2010 - Torrential rain has killed three people on a southern Japanese island, officials said Thursday, with the weather agency warning of possible mudslides and more rain to come. The heavy rains -- part of the knock-on effect of Typhoon Megi -- have battered the subtropical island chain of Amami since Monday night, leaving two women dead at a nursing home, according to the Kagoshima prefecture government. The body of another woman was also pulled from a house, hit by a mudslide, on the main Amami-oshima island, some 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) southwest of Tokyo, the local government said.

A river burst its banks near another nursing home, trapping about 100 residents and employees in the building until mid-afternoon. But officials believe 35 people from 18 households remain isolated in a remote area on the island which rescuers cannot reach due to heavy rain and roads covered by mudslides, the Kagoshima government said. "Damp air from Typhoon Megi is feeding into the rain front over southern Japan, bringing heavy rains to the area," said a weather agency official.

Local authorities have issued evacuation advisories to 2,800 islanders, while landslides and floods have cut off food supplies, major roads, power and mobile and fixed-line telephones, officials said. The Japan Meteorological Agency said 647 millimetres (25.88 inches) of rain fell in the city of Amami over 24 hours, adding mudslides and flooding were now a danger. Typhoon Megi, the strongest northwest Pacific storm since 1990, is making its way towards southern China, where it is expected to make landfall in the southern province of Guangdong.

Death toll from Typhoon Megi rises to 27 in Philippines
Manila (AFP) Oct 21, 2010 - The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Megi rose to 27 on Thursday after more reports of damage and casualties emerged, the government and Red Cross reported. The typhoon slammed into the northeastern side of the main Philippine island of Luzon on Monday, ripping roofs off houses, toppling power lines and nearly destroying some coastal villages. With wind gusts of 260 kilometres (160 miles) per hour, it was the strongest typhoon recorded anywhere in the world this year. Complied data from government and Red Cross showed 27 people had been confirmed killed, mostly in the north of Luzon, up from a death toll of 19 on Wednesday. The government civil defence office said more than 11,000 other people still remained in evacuation centres. Initial estimates of the economic damage from the storm amounted to almost five billion pesos (114 million dollars), the office said, but added that not all reports from affected areas had come in.

Taiwan issues typhoon warning as flash floods hit
Taipei (AFP) Oct 21, 2010 - Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau issued a warning against Typhoon Megi on Thursday as torrential rains caused landslides and interrupted railway traffic. Although Megi -- the strongest northwest Pacific storm since 1990 -- was not expected to hit the island, the bureau warned it might bring over 1,000 millimetres (40 inches) of rain in the north and northeast over the next two days. Television images showed flash flooding submerging a railroad in northeastern Ilan county and suspending railway traffic in the area, while heavy rains set off landslides and forced schools to be closed. The bureau urged residents on offshore islands to stay away from beaches. At 0600 GMT, Typhoon Megi was around 400 kilometres (240 miles) southwest of Pingtung in the south, and was moving north-northeast at a speed of 10 kilometres an hour. It was expected to make landfall in China Saturday.
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Oct 21, 2010
At least 160,000 people were evacuated from southern China Thursday as Typhoon Megi, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in years, bore down, bringing with it the threat of devastation.

More than 150,000 people were evacuated in Fujian province in China's southeast and tens of thousands of fishing boats were called back to port, the official Xinhua news agency quoted flood control authorities as saying.

At least another 10,000 were evacuated in neighbouring Guangdong province, authorities there said, with forecasters predicting the storm would hit somewhere along China's southern coastline late Friday or early Saturday.

The State Oceanic Administration issued a yellow storm surge warning, saying that Megi could cause a "50-year storm surge" if it landed as a severe typhoon.

"The storm surge could be so devastating that buildings, docks, villages and cities could be destroyed by it," said Bai Yiping, director of South China Sea Forecasting Centre of the State Oceanic Administration.

Hong Kong shuttered oil terminals as the monster storm bore down.

Megi, which has already killed at least 27 people in the Philippines, was showing "signs of intensification", the Hong Kong Observatory said Thursday.

"At present we estimate its intensity at around 175 kilometres per hour (110 miles per hour)," said forecaster Lee Tsz-cheung.

"We still cannot rule out the possibility of Megi intensifying further."

Chinese authorities have issued a red alert, the highest of a four-step warning system, saying the typhoon could cause huge waves that could devastate coastal sea areas, including Guangdong, Fujian and the Taiwan Strait.

Xinhua, citing the State Oceanic Administration, said that Guangdong could see storm-triggered waves of up to seven metres (21 feet).

The red alert gives local authorities six hours to evacuate residents at risk and implement storm precautions, order schools, shops and airports to close and all vessels to return to port.

Torrential rains sparked by the typhoon killed three people on one of Japan's southern islands, officials said.

As of midnight (1600 GMT) Thursday, Megi was estimated to be 430 kilometres east-southeast of Hong Kong as it moved slowly across the South China Sea.

Five oil terminals on Tsing Yi island off Hong Kong's Kowloon peninsula were shut down, forcing tankers to anchor offshore and suspending marine fuel deliveries.

The city was setting up typhoon shelters for people in outlying areas in case they need to be evacuated from their homes, David Leung, Hong Kong's deputy director of home affairs, said Thursday.

Flights were on schedule, but Hong Kong's airport authority said that could change depending on weather conditions over the next few days.

Reservoirs and hydroelectric stations in Guangdong have been put on high alert, and local flood control officials have been told to ensure the safety of venues for the upcoming Asian Games in the provincial capital Guangzhou.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau warned that Megi could bring over one metre (three feet) of rain to the north of the island over the next two days, as torrential rains caused landslides and interrupted railway traffic.

Television images showed flash flooding had submerged a railroad in the northeast of the island and suspended railway traffic in the area, while heavy rains set off landslides and forced schools to close.

China was hit earlier this year by its worst floods in more than a decade, with more than 4,300 people dead or missing -- including 1,500 people killed in one devastating mudslide in the northwestern province of Gansu in August.

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