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Typhoon Mangkhut

Southern China fortifies defences as Super Typhoon Mangkhut closes in

Authorities stock up on food and open reservoir floodgates before the storm’s expected landfall on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2018, 9:47pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2018, 10:39pm

Southern China is bracing for the arrival of Super Typhoon Mangkhut, with provinces in its projected path scrambling to prevent floods and food shortages before the storm’s expected landfall on Sunday.

The Ministry of Emergency Management said on Friday night that it had mobilised more than 20,000 firefighters, nearly 600 rescue boats and 113 drones in Guangdong and Hainan provinces alone, while Guangxi and Yunnan had nearly 600 rescue workers on standby.

Earlier in the day, the China Meteorological Administration raised its storm alert twice, first to yellow and then orange, the second-highest level on its four-tier warning system, as Mangkhut moved into the South China Sea and picked up speed.

The administration said the storm could be the strongest to hit the country this year, and warned that southern China could be put to “a severe test” just days after Typhoon Barijat hit the region.

“There is a clear disaster stacking effect, due to the intensity of Mangkhut and the overlap in the affected area with Typhoon Barijat,” the CMA said.

Hainan governor Shen Xiaoming told the island province’s officials to “prepare for the worst”.

“Make the fullest preparations, and strive for a victory in the defence against the typhoon by minimising the losses,” the official Hainan Daily quoted Shen as saying late on Thursday.

Local Communist Party and government leaders were also ordered to take command of typhoon readiness in their jurisdictions.

The massive storm is expected to make landfall between Yangjiang in western Guangdong and Wenchang in eastern Hainan from Sunday evening to Monday early morning, with torrential rain forecast across most of southern China as well as the southwestern province of Yunnan.

As the storm closed in, authorities in the region mobilised emergency crews, stocked food reserves, and secured buildings, billboards and roadside trees.

In the Hainan resort city of Sanya, the government brought in over 1,300 tonnes of vegetables to guarantee supplies for up to three days, Hainan Daily reported.

The province also ordered reservoirs to open floodgates to ease the threat of a devastating backlog, the report said.

In Guangdong, governor Ma Xingrui ordered the authorities to be on alert for secondary disasters such as flooding and landslides. All of the province’s 36,000-plus registered fishing boats and 27,000 or so other vessels had returned to harbour earlier this week, Nanfang Daily reported. In the provincial capital of Guangzhou, the metro said it would suspend services if winds from Mangkhut reached strong gale force levels, the report said.

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A resident in the Hainan capital of Haikou said the island had been in “full combat readiness mode” ahead of Mangkhut, with many recalling the lessons learned from Typhoon Rammasun’s battering in 2014.

“Everyone is quite nervous, and the government has held meetings at all levels,” the man, who identified himself only by his surname Xu, said. “The public is also starting to prepare stocks of water and dry food, among other things. I have prepared enough candles, instant noodles, vegetables, fruit, bottled water and dumplings, and noodles for three to four days. I’ve also made sure to charge my power banks and put a full tank of petrol in my car.”

But some are less concerned about the impending super typhoon. Liu Xiaoxia, manager of the Banqiao Seafood Square in Haikou, said the restaurant had not made any special preparations ahead of the storm.

“The weather outside is still fine,” Liu said. “We’re not expecting the number of customers to go down, or for the storm to impact our business too much. It will come, and then it will pass.”

It was also business as usual at the Kyoto Japanese Restaurant in Zhanjiang, Guangxi.

A staff member surnamed Li said the hotel which housed the restaurant had shored up its defences and had a power generator on hand in case of outages.

“We have all experienced typhoons before,” Li said, adding that she had enough food and supplies to last around one week. “As residents in coastal cities, we are used to typhoons. It happens every year.”

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With Mangkhut closing in on the Philippine island of Luzon and the Bashi Channel on Friday, Taiwan also issued a warning to ships in waters southeast of the island. The storm is likely to send heavy rains to southern and southeastern parts of Taiwan on Saturday.