After wreaking damage on the Philippines and claiming at least 64 lives over Tuesday and Wednesday, a newly intensified Typhoon Rammasun is bearing down on Hainan and Guangdong provinces in southern China.
The storm, which was downgraded as it passed over the Philippines, gained strength again over the South China Sea and is now battering Hainan, with its inner eye wall hugging the island’s coast.
The weather agency issued a ‘red’ typhoon warning, the highest of four color-coded warning levels. It is the first time this year the signal has been raised. Authorities in the region are on high alert.
Prior to the storm’s reaching Hainan, a bulletin stated its intensity will be 50-55 meters per second (180-200 km/h or 112-123 mph). Super typhoons are categorized as having sustained winds of 150 mph (241 km/h) or higher.
Should Rammasun hit the mainland as expected, the storm is expected to produce strong gales that may top 93 mph (150 km/h), heavy rain and tidal surges.
Given the rapid escalation in the storm’s strength, it is unclear how comprehensive preparations for this storm have been in the areas likely to be affected the most.
Shipping in the region has been suspended, as have some flights, including in Hainan, which is a popular holiday destination. Trains in Guangdong bound for Hainan have been halted in the provincial capital Guangzhou, and Hainan’s high-speed railway has also had operations suspended, according to China’s state-run news agency.