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Extreme weather

Five of the biggest typhoons to hit Asia – as Typhoon Maria makes landfall in China

From Typhoon Vera, which remains the strongest and deadliest typhoon to have ravaged Japan, to Typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines, we recall the worst typhoons on record in the region

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 July, 2018, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 July, 2018, 12:18pm

Typhoon Maria slammed into the coast of China’s Fujian province on Wednesday, having largely spared Japan’s southern islands and Taiwan after weakening from a super typhoon earlier in the week.

This comes as record rainfall in western Japan triggered by Typhoon Prapiroon has left at least 195 people dead, with more than 60 others still missing, and caused widespread destruction.

Winds gusted to 150km/h as Maria made landfall in southeast China, where more than 400,000 people were evacuated and transport severely disrupted. Earlier in the week the maximum sustained wind speeds near the storm’s centre approached 220km/h, and the region had been braced for widespread destruction.

While Maria weakened as it tracked across the South China Sea, East Asia has not escaped so lightly in past typhoon seasons. We look back at some of the most destructive and deadliest storms to have struck the continent in recorded history.

Typhoon Vera, 1959

Typhoon Vera remains the strongest and deadliest typhoon to have made landfall in Japan, and caused more than 4,000 deaths. Vera struck at a bad time for Japan’s economy, severely affecting multiple industries that were still recovering from a dramatic fall in output in the wake of the second world war.

Typhoon Nina, 1975

Although not the storm with the heaviest rainfall or the strongest winds, Typhoon Nina is one of the most destructive storms ever to have struck China.

It took the lives of over 230,000, with most the casualties recorded in Henan province, where the Banqiao dam failed, flooding agricultural areas and leading to mass starvation and the spread of disease among displaced villagers.

At least 3 dead, several missing after ‘historic’ heavy rain in Japan

Typhoon Tip, 1979

Despite not claiming many lives relative to its size and strength, Typhoon Tip broke many meteorological records. It was the biggest and most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded. Its diameter was equivalent to half the land mass of the United States of America, and it caused atmospheric pressure at sea level to fall to the lowest on record.

Typhoon Haiyan, 2013

Measured by wind speed, this storm was the strongest ever to make landfall, with gusts reaching up to 315km/h when it made landfall in the eastern Philippines in early November 2013. More than 11 million people were estimated to have been affected in the Philippines and the surrounding region, and more than 6,000 were killed.

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More than 1.9 million people found themselves homeless.

The devastation caused by Haiyan prompted an outpouring of aid from the international community, led by the US, which sent an aircraft carrier strike group.

Typhoon Wanda, 1962

Wanda scored a direct hit on Hong Kong and wrecked, sank or damaged more than 2,000 vessels.

Wanda was only a category 2 storm, but despite its relatively slower speeds and weaker winds it was accompanied by a storm surge that left communities in low-lying coastal areas in ruins. Some 130 people were confirmed dead, with a further 53 missing.