Another 'super typhoon' on the way as Matmo follows hot on the heels of deadly Rammasun

Clean-up under way in Hainan and Guangxi after Typhoon Rammasun leaves a trail of destruction and huge economic losses

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 July, 2014, 6:13am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 July, 2014, 1:49pm

A major storm that is expected to become a super typhoon was today churning its way across the South China Sea, hot on the heels of Typhoon Rammasun, which left more than 110 dead in China and the Philippines.

Typhoon Matmo is centred some 1,000 kilometres east-southeast of Manila and is currently heading towards Taiwan, according to Hong Kong Observatory.

The disaster-weary Philippines is braced for Matmo's approach, officials said. Although the new storm is not expected to hit the main island of Luzon, it is likely to bring heavy rain, with a risk of flash floods and landslides.

A statement on the Observatory website read: "At 8am Typhoon Matmo was centred about 1,000 kilometres east-southeast of Manila. It is forecast to move north-northwest at about 16 kilometres per hour across the seas east of the Philippines.

"Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Rammasun was centred about 310 kilometres north-northwest of Hanoi. It is forecast to move west at about 20 kilometres per hour, and dissipating gradually."

The Observatory predicted that Matmo would become a super typhoon - a storm with sustained winds of over 185km/h - as it crossed the South China Sea after passing the Philippines.

The effects of Rammasun brought to an end the hot spell that had seen Hong Kong bake under blazing sunshine for the last few weeks, with June becoming the hottest on record. The sunshine has been repalced with squally thunderstorms and heavy showers over the last few days.

Typhoon Matmo comes just days after the Philippines was battered by Rammasun, which then moved to China, killing 16 people there and forcing 70,000 to flee their homes.

After blasting Hainan Island and the southern tip of Guangdong with winds of over 200km/h, officials said it had been the worst typhoon in the region for more than four decades.

Roads were littered with debris from destroyed buildings and uprooted trees.

At least five were killed and 99 injured in the island province, Xinhua reported. Four cadres in Changjiang and Wuzhishan city were reported missing, the People's Daily website reported.

At least three people were killed when Rammasun roared along the coast of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on its way to the border with Vietnam. One was struck by a falling tower crane. Three critically injured people were rushed to hospital in Beihai .

In the central Philippines a few days earlier the typhoon killed at least 94 people, destroyed more than 111,000 homes and razed hectares of crops.

The Hainan provincial government put economic losses at 4.7 billion yuan (HK$5.9 billion) with 406,000 hectares of crops affected. More than 182,000 residents needed assistance.

By yesterday, life in Haikou city had started returning to normal, with shops opening as people began to clean up, the Haikou Evening News reported.

The South Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army navy also appeared unscathed, with no reports of injuries to crew or damage to vessels, China News Service reported.

In Guangxi, there were chaotic scenes when the typhoon landed early yesterday. In Beihai , fallen trees and power lines blocked roads and many buildings had lost roofs and windows. Power supplies were paralysed.

"This is the biggest typhoon I've experienced in years," resident Dai Yunhui told Xinhua.

At least 58 flights were cancelled in regional capital Nanning , leaving about 1,300 passengers stranded. High-speed train services to other coastal cities were suspended. Guangdong estimated an economic loss of 247 million yuan, with some 14,800 people in Zhanjiang needing evacuation.

In all, Rammasun affected more than 1.3 million people.

Premier Li Keqiang said the priority was protecting lives and moving people to safety as early as possible, according to the government website.

Internet users offered assistance. One Weibo message called for volunteers with four four-wheel-drive vehicles to deliver aid to Wenchang on Hainan's east coast, the first city to the face the brunt of the storm and one of the worst affected.

Typhoon Rammasun began as a moderate tropical storm a week ago east of the Philippines, but intensified rapidly as it approached southern Luzon. It weakened significantly in the South China Sea before intensifying almost overnight from a Category 1 storm, the lowest of five ratings, to a Category 4 storm with winds of up to 250km/h.

Both Rammasun's predecessor Typhoon Neoguri and November's Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 in the Philippines, were Category 5 storms.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg