China and Taiwan are counting the cost of Super Typhoon Meranti, the most powerful storm to make landfall in SE Asia since deadly Haiyan in 2013, and the strongest so far anywhere in the world this year.
The typhoon season got off to a violent start early this week as a category 5 typhoon – the highest rating – caused damage and evacuation across three countries in South East Asia. Super Typhoon Meranti made landfall on the China coast around Fujian Province earlier today, having already tracked across the small Philippine islands in the Luzon Strait, and caused major blackouts and structural damage in Taiwan.
Super Typhoon Meranti has hit China during a three day festival and public holiday, flooding streets, crushing cars, and forcing mass evacuations from homes and harbours in the path of the storm.
It is the strongest typhoon to hit that part of China since 1949, with winds of up to 370 kilometres per hour. Although wind speeds lessened after landfall, and it has since been downgraded to a category 2, they were strong enough to knock down trees and smash windows.
The powerful storm first brushed southern Taiwan, killing one person and injuring 44. Almost a million homes lost power, and half a million had water supply problems. Hundreds of thousands of buildings are in need of repair on Taiwan. Forewarning of the typhoon caused tens of thousands of people to be evacuated, and fishing fleets to be called back to port.
Although the Philippines avoided most of the storm, there are fears for those on some small islands in the Luzon Strait, including 3000 who live on Itbayat. It is not known yet how well they were able to either evacuate or shelter.
International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has been monitoring Meranti’s course over recent days. ShelterBox has years of experience in assisting Philippine communities during the annual hurricane seasons, and was a major aid player following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 which killed 6,300.
Alice Jefferson, from ShelterBox’s Operations team in Cornwall, says,
Meranti signals the start of a season which sees powerful storms brewing out in the Pacific, and tracking across various parts of SE Asia, particularly the hundreds of Philippine islands. For most areas Meranti came with sufficient warning for preparations to be made, but nonetheless there has been widespread damage, distress and injury.
Wave from Super Typhoon Meranti lashes a fishing port in southern Taitung county, Taiwan (Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images)