PEOPLE wade through a flooded street in Ningbo, a town in eastern Zhejiang province.—AFP
PEOPLE wade through a flooded street in Ningbo, a town in eastern Zhejiang province.—AFP

NINGBO: Typhoon In-Fa uprooted trees and drenched communities in knee-deep water in parts of eastern China, but there were no reports of major damage as it made landfall on Sunday.

Sea, air and rail traffic had been shut down across a swathe of the coast centered on the major shipping port of Ningbo, where the weakening typhoon rumbled ashore around midday packing winds of up to 38 metres per second, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Response teams in Ningbo cleared away fallen trees in the city centre, while residents in some neighbourhoods waded through floodwaters and merchants piled up sandbags in front of their businesses to keep out water.

The typhoon hit as the central province of Henan was still cleaning up after torrential downpours dumped a year’s worth of rain in just three days last week.

Government officials on Sunday added another five dead to the toll from the freak flooding in Henan, raising the total to 63.

In-Fa’s effects were also felt on Sunday in the metropolis of Shanghai, China’s largest city, with strong gusts of wind and steady but not heavy rainfall.

All inbound and outbound flights were cancelled for the city’s two international airports, as were dozens of scheduled trains, while activity at the ports of Shanghai and Ningbo — two of the world’s largest — was also shut down.

The government announced that it would extend a suspension of railway services in and out of Shanghai through midday on Monday.

Some public attractions in Shanghai and other cities, including Shanghai Disneyland, also were closed and residents were warned to avoid outdoor activities.

The meteorological administration said that after landfall In-Fa would weaken but continue to hover over a wide expanse of eastern China for days, ringing itself out and bringing heavy rainfall, possibly to areas still recovering from last week’s flooding.

“It is necessary to be highly vigilant and prevent disasters that may be caused by extreme heavy rainfall,” the administration said on Sunday.

China has suffered an annual summer flooding and typhoon season for millennia, but the record rainfall this past week in Henan has prompted questions about how cities could be better prepared for freak weather events, which experts say are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.

Millions were affected by the Henan floods, with some trapped without fresh food or water for days, and economic losses have run into the billions of dollars.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2021

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