Residents scrambled to stockpile food and authorities ordered ships to remain docked as southern China geared up Wednesday for a super typhoon after it killed 15 people and wiped out crops in the northern Philippines.
Super Typhoon Megi lost power after it slammed into the northern Philippines on Monday but was expected to build back up to super typhoon levels by Thursday as it slowly traveled toward the southern Chinese coast for its expected landfall on Saturday, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
The storm packed winds of 140 mph (225 kph) when it struck the Philippines on Monday, but the country escaped severe casualties because of what authorities cited as their thorough evacuations and other emergency preparations in the sparsely populated areas.
Philippine officials reported 15 dead in Cagayan, Isabela and Pangasinan provinces, including several people who drowned after being pinned by fallen trees. The storm damaged thousands of homes, and flooded vast areas of rice and corn fields.
On Wednesday, Megi had nearly stalled in the South China Sea, about 220 miles (350 kilometers) west of Luzon Island packing maximum winds of 108 miles (175 kilometers) per hour and gusts of up to 130 mph (210 kph), but was forecast to move on after about 12 hours, according to the Philippine weather bureau.
The typhoon was expected to make its next landfall on the central or western coast of China’s Guangdong province, the Guangdong Meteorological Bureau said on its web site. The Hong Kong Observatory said it was expected to develop winds of more than 115 mph (185 kph), or super typhoon strength, by Thursday.
In Guangdong, officials ordered all fishing boats to return by the end of Tuesday, put the provincial flood control headquarters on alert and warned reservoirs to watch their water levels, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.
In the southern island province of Hainan, residents in the provincial capital Haikou rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food, vegetables and bottled water, Xinhua said.
In the southern financial hub Hong Kong, locals prepared to cancel activities this weekend but the mood was calm.
No evacuations have been ordered so far in the densely populated city of 7 million whose infrastructure has traditionally held up well against the annual summer barrage of typhoons. The weather was cloudy on Wednesday but the Hong Kong Observatory has predicted intensifying winds and torrential rains over the next few days.
Local media warned residents to prepare for the worst, with the Apple Daily declaring in a front-page headline, “The strongest typhoon in history, Megi, rushing toward Hong Kong.”
In the Philippines, more than 215,000 people were affected by the typhoon, including 10,300 people who fled to evacuation centers, officials said. About $30 million (1.3 billion pesos) worth of infrastructure and crop were damaged and nearly 5,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by Megi’s ferocious wind, according to the government’s main disaster-response agency said.
Associated Press Writers Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila and Chi-chi Zhang in Beijing contributed to this report.