Strong Typhoon Nears China, Putting Hong Kong on Alert

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HONG KONG -- The strongest typhoon to hit Asia this year caused landslides in the Philippines and flooding in Taiwan on Saturday as it appeared headed toward the densely populated Pearl River Delta area of China, with the financial center of Hong Kong preparing for possible business shutdowns at the start of the workweek.

China's National Meteorological Center issued a red alert -- the highest-level warning -- with the storm, called Super Typhoon Usagi, on a path to hit Guangdong Province, the industrial powerhouse at the heart of the Pearl River Delta. Coastal Zhejiang and Fujian Provinces were also covered by the alert.

The storm, with a width of nearly 700 miles and carrying sustained winds of 139 miles per hour, battered the northern Philippine island of Luzon on one side while striking Taiwan on the other, moving between the two on a path straight toward Hong Kong at the foot of the delta. It was expected to make landfall in the financial hub on Sunday night, although forecasters said it could veer from that course.

More than 2,000 people were evacuated from low-lying and mountainous areas of Taiwan out of fear of flooding and landslides, and powerful storm surges drenched fishing boats along the coasts of the island. In the Philippines, the typhoon caused power failures and evacuations, with landslides in the north of the country, but no fatalities were immediately reported.

The Hong Kong Observatory said the storm would pose a "severe threat to Hong Kong."

"Engineers, architects and contractors should make sure that scaffoldings, hoardings, windowpanes and other temporary structures are secured," the observatory said in a statement. "The public should remain vigilant, and take precautions against strong winds and flooding as early as possible."

In anticipation of the typhoon, Cathay Pacific Airways and the affiliated Dragonair canceled operations at its Hong Kong hub starting at 6 p.m. Sunday and said flight disruptions would probably continue into Monday.

"The airline is monitoring the situation closely and will issue further advice on the resumption of flight services," Cathay said in a statement. "It is anticipated that disruptions will continue on 23 September due to the impact of adverse weather and operational constraints."

As the storm barreled toward mainland China, preparations were already under way, with more than 20,000 fishing boats moved to secure locations and 4,000 people evacuated from coastal areas of Fujian Province, state news media reported.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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