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Lekima Leaves 32 Dead, 16 Missing as Storm Hits East China

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Typhoon Lekima killed 32 people and left 16 missing in coastal Zhejiang province, China’s state broadcaster reported.

More than 1 million people in Shanghai and neighboring Zhejiang province have been evacuated due to the storm, which has damaged more than 3,000 homes, China Central Television said. Lekima, which made landfall in Zhejiang early Saturday morning, has weakened to a strong tropical storm, according to the National Meteorological Center.

The center has downgraded Lekima to yellow from orange, and has issued an orange rainstorm alert. China has a four-tier color-coded system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Lekima forced Shanghai to suspend services on several metro lines, according to the local government’s official WeChat account. Air China Ltd., China Eastern Airlines Corp. and China Southern Airlines Co. were among those that announced flight cancellations, and high-speed rail services were affected in multiple cities, according to local media. Shanghai and Hangzhou airports are restoring operations gradually, according to Ctrip’s flight tracking data and the local government.

Taiwanese airlines canceled about 520 international and domestic flights, according to local aviation authorities.

Emergency units are working to repair roads, water and electricity, Global Times, a tabloid published by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, reported on its Weibo account. The storm caused a direct economic loss of 15.8 billion yuan ($2.2 billion), CCTV reported.

Mainland China’s main financial hub had braced for Lekima after the typhoon ravaged Taiwan and affected Japan. Government offices, schools and businesses, including financial markets, were shut across northern Taiwan Friday. More than 50,000 homes lost power overnight Thursday, though electricity was mostly restored by Friday morning.

Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center reported at least one death and four injuries in the wake of the storm.

At least four people were hurt in Okinawa, while flights and ferries across the southern Japanese islands experienced widespread disruptions, according to a report by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said Lekima had sustained wind speeds of 184 kilometers per hour (114 mph), with gusts of 227 kilometers an hour Friday morning. Scott Hsieh, a senior meteorologist at CWB, said it was the strongest typhoon in the western Pacific so far this year.

(Updates number of casualties in headline and lead, economic loss in fifth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Jacob Gu, Adela Lin, Claire Che and Sarah Chen.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Samson Ellis in Taipei at sellis29@bloomberg.net;Amanda Wang in Shanghai at twang234@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Linus Chua at lchua@bloomberg.net, ;John Liu at jliu42@bloomberg.net, Stanley James, Philip Glamann

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