At least 20 dead as Typhoon Usagi hits western Pacific

Monday 23 September 2013 17.50
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A man walks through deep floodwater in Manila, Philippines, where the typhoon has brought heavy rains
A man walks through deep floodwater in Manila, Philippines, where the typhoon has brought heavy rains
A group of Chinese visitors next to strong waves hitting the coast of Xiamen in southeast China's Fujian province
A group of Chinese visitors next to strong waves hitting the coast of Xiamen in southeast China's Fujian province
Chinese ships anchored at the harbour in Xiamen following a typhoon warning
Chinese ships anchored at the harbour in Xiamen following a typhoon warning
Local residents stay at a detention centre in after evacuating from a mudslide area as Typhoon Usagi hit southern Taiwan
Local residents stay at a detention centre in after evacuating from a mudslide area as Typhoon Usagi hit southern Taiwan
Super Typhoon Usagi heads west-northwest on September 20 between the Philippines and Taiwan through the Luzon Strait (Picture: Japan Meteorological Agency/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Super Typhoon Usagi heads west-northwest on September 20 between the Philippines and Taiwan through the Luzon Strait (Picture: Japan Meteorological Agency/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
A surfer jumps from his board while catching an unusually large wave at Big Wave Bay in Hong Kong
A surfer jumps from his board while catching an unusually large wave at Big Wave Bay in Hong Kong
A woman uses plastic bags as socks to keep her feet from getting wet as she walks
A woman uses plastic bags as socks to keep her feet from getting wet as she walks
Hundreds of flights out of Hong Kong airport were cancelled
Hundreds of flights out of Hong Kong airport were cancelled
A resident using an innertube as a makeshift raft paddles through chest-deep floodwaters along a street in Manila
A resident using an innertube as a makeshift raft paddles through chest-deep floodwaters along a street in Manila
Hong Kong's CBD was largely empty this morning
Hong Kong's CBD was largely empty this morning
Dark skies over Hong Kong's CBD last night
Dark skies over Hong Kong's CBD last night
A fisherman secures a boat in Hong Kong ahead of the typhoon
A fisherman secures a boat in Hong Kong ahead of the typhoon

A powerful typhoon has hit Hong Kong and the southern China coast, killing at least 20 people on the mainland, crippling power lines and causing flooding and gale force winds.

Typhoon Usagi, the strongest storm to hit the western Pacific this year, began pounding the Asian financial centre late last night.

More than 370 flights were cancelled.

The signal warning remained in force early this morning, with financial markets closed for at least part of the morning.

The weather observatory said the storm had weakened from "super" typhoon status and that it would consider lowering the warning signal.

China's National Meteorological Centre issued its highest alert, with more than 80,000 people moved to safety in Fujian province and authorities deploying at least 50,000 disaster-relief workers, state Xinhua news agency reported.

At least 20 people were killed on China's southern coast, television reports said, including 13 in Shanwei in the eastern fringes of Guangdong province.

The victims included people hit by debris and others who had drowned. One man was killed by a falling window pane.

Winds of more than 180km/h were recorded in some parts of southern China, toppling trees, cranes and blowing cars off roads in some areas.

The storm had earlier brought down three major power lines in coastal Fujian, cutting off electricity supplies to about 170,000 households, Xinhua reported.

In Guangdong province, a major base for Chinese nuclear power, the Daya Bay nuclear power plant just east of Hong Konghad initiated emergency response schemes.

Four of the six power-generating units at the plant had been ordered to operate at reduced load.

Airlines cancelled flights to cities in southern Guangdong and Fujian, while shipping was suspended between China and Taiwan.

Despite earlier warnings the typhoon could pose a severe risk to Hong Kong, the city suffered only minimal damage, including toppled trees. There were no fatalities in the city.

The Hong Kong Exchange delayed the start of trading on securities and derivatives markets due to the typhoon.

Usagi lashed the east and south coasts of Taiwan on Saturday after slamming into the Philippines' northern islands, where it cut communication and power lines and triggered landslides.