China Prepares for Weaker Haikui After Direct Hit on Taiwan

China is preparing to deal with the remnants of Haikui after the storm’s direct hit on Taiwan left hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

(Bloomberg) — China is preparing to deal with the remnants of Haikui after the storm’s direct hit on Taiwan left hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

China downgraded Haikui to a severe tropical storm from a typhoon on Monday, saying it would make landfall in Fujian and Guangdong early Tuesday. It had a yellow alert in place, the second highest storm warning in its four-tiered system, and warned that torrential rain could inundate rice and vegetable crops.

Both provinces issued alerts for strong winds and potential flooding from the storm, which is now crossing the Taiwan Strait. Railway authorities across eastern China warned that services for hundreds of routes may be disrupted. 

The cyclone is the latest bout of extreme weather to hit China this summer. Dozens of people died in northern areas including Beijing due to flooding caused by an earlier typhoon. Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a probe into flooding at a work site in the southwestern province of Sichuan that killed four people and left another 48 missing. China hasn’t provided an update on the missing people yet.  

The nation’s central bank has also pledged to step up credit issuance in areas greatly affected by natural disasters to help recovery efforts.

See: Heavy Rains Threaten China’s Rice Crop in Latest Weather Worry

Hong Kong has its lowest alert in place for the storm, which the city’s weather service said was some 530 kilometers (330 miles) east of the city as of 5 p.m. on Monday. Haikui was packing sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour near its center.

In Taiwan, almost 250,000 households saw power outages at some point over the weekend, mainly in the southern half of the island. Electricity had been restored to most of them.

More than 260 domestic and international flights were canceled around the island as Taiwan suffered its first direct hit by a tropical cyclone in four years. There were 44 reports of injuries, according to the semi-official Central News Agency.

Haikui comes after Hong Kong took a hit from Typhoon Saola — the strongest storm to affect the city since at least Mangkhut in 2018 — which then petered out over the mainland. The financial hub returned to work Monday as the airport, businesses and public transport resumed operations, while street cleaners cleared debris and uprooted trees.

Saola caused 872 million yuan ($120 million) of damage in Fujian, state broadcaster China Central Television reported, and hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated in Fujian and Guangdong.

Insurance claims due to Saola and Haikui in southern China and Taiwan “could be in the low hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Steven Lam. 

–With assistance from Xiao Zibang.

(Updates with more details and context.)

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