China Downgrades Haikui to Tropical Storm as Lake Rises

Typhoon Haikui Lashes Eastern China, Grounding Shanghai Flights
Chinese rescuers help evacuate residents from their homes of Typhoon Haikui in Zhoushan, east China's Zhejiang province on August 7, 2012. Source: AFP/Getty Images

Typhoon Haikui weakened to a tropical storm today after lashing eastern China with rain and wind, forcing Shanghai to raise its highest-level alert and airlines to cancel flights to and from the city.

Haikui, which made landfall in Zhejiang province today at 3:20 a.m., was located near Huzhou city at 5 p.m., according to the National Meteorological Center. The storm, which had maximum windspeeds of about 108 kilometers (67 miles) per hour, was moving northwest. Haikui killed two people in Shanghai, injured seven and toppled more than 30,000 trees, China News Service said, citing the city flood-management office.

Shanghai evacuated 252,000 people ahead of the storm and 1.5 million people were relocated in Zhejiang, which neighbors the city to the south, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Haikui, the third typhoon to hit China in a week, had dumped 350 millimeters (13.8 inches) to 434 millimeters of rain in Xiangshan, Ninghai and Taizhou in Zhejiang as of this morning.

The storm has caused more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in damage in Zhejiang, Xinhua said in a separate report, citing local relief office. Neighboring Jiangsu province relocated 180,000 people, and the water level in Taihu Lake, China’s second-biggest freshwater lake, surged above the alert line, China Radio International said on its website.

Heavy rain brought by the typhoon will last for a long time, Xinhua said, citing Zhao Fayuan, a Zhejiang relief official. The province should be prepared for mountain torrents, mudslides and urban flooding, Zhao said.

Exchanges Open

Shanghai’s stock and futures exchanges continued operating today even after the city’s weather center raised the typhoon alert to red, the highest level, at 11:30 a.m. local time.

China Eastern Airlines Corp., China Southern Airlines Co. and Air China Ltd. were among carriers that scrapped flights to Shanghai’s two airports, Shanghai International Airport Co. said on its official microblog hosted on Sina Corp.’s Weibo service. China Eastern, Air China and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. also canceled flights to and from the cities of Hangzhou and Ningbo, according to their websites.

The Shanghai Railway Bureau suspended the operation of some trains, including services between to Hangzhou. The city’s metro operator closed portions of the No. 2, 6 and 9 lines, and shut the magnetic levitation train that serves Pudong International Airport.

Shanghai International Port Group Co. shut operations at its ports from last night due to “gusty winds,” and may resume operations early tomorrow, said Jin Cunliang, general manager of the operations department.

Haikui was forecast to dump “lasting heavy rains” in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui and the municipality of Shanghai for the next three days, the weather agency said.

Typhoons Saola and Damrey killed at least 16 people when it made landfall in China last week.

— With assistance by Raymond Liu

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