Thousands evacuate China as typhoon looms

  • 11/07/2015
People cross the street in a downpour brought by Typhoon Chan-hom in Taipei, Taiwan (AAP)
People cross the street in a downpour brought by Typhoon Chan-hom in Taipei, Taiwan (AAP)

Super typhoon Chan-hom is barrelling towards Shanghai, prompting the evacuation of more than 865,000 people in eastern China, after lashing Japan's Okinawa island chain and Taiwan.

The powerful storm could be the strongest typhoon to strike Zhejiang province, just south of Shanghai, since 1949, China's National Meterological Centre (NMC) said.

The storm left five people dead in the Philippines earlier in the week and injured more than 20 people in Japan on Friday (local time) as strong winds uprooted trees and battered buildings, the Tokyo Broadcasting System broadcaster reported.

Four people were also injured by falling trees in Taiwan when the storm buffeted the island on Friday (local time).

Early on Saturday morning the storm was 235km southwest of Zhenjiang province and continued to gain pace as it travelled towards land, the NMC said.

Super typhoon Chan-hom's expected path would see it pass just to the east of the financial metropolis Shanghai, after it makes landfall to the south of the city bringing with it winds of up to 210km/h.

In addition to the large-scale evacuations, nearly 30,000 fishing vessels have returned to harbour in Zhenjiang after waves reached up to 10 metres high off the coast, the provincial weather centre said, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

Several cities in the province were already reporting heavy rain and strong gales, the weather centre added, and Shanghai issued a typhoon alert on Friday, Xinhua reported.

"The upcoming typhoon seems very powerful. We have sealed all our windows and doors and have stored food," said Liu Yimin, a villager in coastal Huagang village, according to Xinhua.

People in coastal fishing farms in Fujian province to the south of Zhenjiang were also asked to evacuate on Friday morning when the NMC first issued a red alert - the highest level - for the super typhoon.

The typhoon is the second storm to hit China in two days after severe tropical storm Linfa made landfall on the coast of southern Guangdong province.

Hot on the heels of Chan-hom, Typhoon Nangka was swelling over the Pacific Ocean Saturday and is expected to travel northwest towards Japan's Ryukyu Islands in the coming days. The Japan Meteorological Agency described the intensity of the storm as "very strong".