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Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 20:36

China on highest alert for waves as Meranti approaches

By Agencies
China on highest alert for waves as Meranti approaches
Typhoon Meranti causes high waves in Fujiang, East China on Sept 14, 2016. (Xinhua)

TAIPEI/BEIJING - China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center (NMEFC) on Wednesday upgraded its warning for ocean waves triggered by Typhoon Meranti to "red," the highest of a four-color warning system.

Meranti triggered waves of 17 meters high as it swept across seas off the southern coast of Taiwan.

Gales and monster waves up to 12-meters high have been observed off the eastern coast of Taiwan, as this year's 14th typhoon is moving westward, and surges are expected off the coast of Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces on Wednesday and Thursday.

The typhoon is expected to make landfall in Fujian and Guangdong on Thursday and the State Oceanic Administration has initiated a class-II emergency response, the second highest level.

The authorities ordered ships to return to harbor and residents to stay indoors. It also advised that dams be reinforced.

China on highest alert for waves as Meranti approaches
Forecast track of Super Typhoon Meranti, which is hammering Taiwan on Sept 14, 2016. ( LAURENCE CHU / AFP)

Li Mei, a meteorologist in eastern China's Fujian, said that Meranti is among the strongest typhoon to hit China in recent years.

Schools and kindergartens in coastal cities of Fuzhou, Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou and Putian were closed Wednesday.

"The typhoon will bring gales and heavy rains when it makes landfall," Li said. "Parents are advised to keep the children indoors and stay away from unsafe houses and advertising boards."

Passenger liners on eight routes between Fujian and Taiwan were canceled on Wednesday, as were at least 175 flights in and out of Fujian.

According to Chen Jianping, an official with Guangzhou Railway Group, services of many passenger trains have been stopped. Passengers can have their tickets refunded at railway stations.

More than 4,000 workers are patrolling railways to monitor potential risks, Chen said.

China on highest alert for waves as Meranti approaches
A traffic sign along a highway between Pingtung and Kent ing fell amid strong wind in Taiwan on Sept 14, 2016. (Xinhua)

Tens of thousands of homes lost power across Taiwan on Wednesday as Meranti hit the island, a storm seen as the strongest in the world so far this year, forcing schools and businesses to close and flights to be cancelled.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau warned that the storm would threaten several southern and eastern cities, including Kaohsiung and Hualien, with strong winds, torrential rain and flooding.

Meranti, which grew in strength as it neared Taiwan, was carrying maximum winds of 216 km per hour, meteorologists said. Fallen power cables and trees were among some of the early damage reported.

"This typhoon is the world's strongest so far this year," weather bureau spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-yun said. "Its impact on Taiwan will peak all day today."

Companies and schools in Kaohsiung and other cities have closed and almost 1,500 residents have been evacuated, the Central Emergency Operation Center said in a statement.

China on highest alert for waves as Meranti approaches
A truck is overturned in southern Pingtung county as typhoon Meranti slashes southern Taiwan on Sept 14, 2016. (SAM YEH / AFP)
Nearly 200,000 households were without power, according to the Taiwan Power Co. Most domestic flights have been cancelled, including all of those from Kaohsiung airport, where international flights were also severely affected.

Taiwan will feel the full force of the typhoon through Wednesday and into Thursday before the storm barrels into the Chinese mainland, meteorologists said.

Typhoon Meranti comes just over two months after the deadly typhoon Nepartak cut power, grounded flights and forced thousands to flee their homes across central and southern areas of Taiwan.

In 2009, Typhoon Morakot cut a swath of destruction through southern Taiwan, killing about 700 people and causing up to $3 billion of damage.

China on highest alert for waves as Meranti approaches
A local resident removes a rock from a blocked road in southern Pingtung county as typhoon Meranti slash southern Taiwan o n Sept 14, 2016. (SAM YEH / AFP)

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