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China's third-largest typhoon on record hits east of country

Hundreds of flights were cancelled and a million people were evacuated from their homes as the third-largest typhoon on record in China hit the east of the country, state-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported today.

Typhoon Lekima made landfall early this morning in the eastern province of Zhejiang with maximum winds of 187kmh, although it had weakened from its earlier designation as a ‘super’ typhoon, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China’s weather bureau today issued an orange alert, its second-highest, after putting out a red alert yesterday, when the storm forced flight cancellations in Taiwan and shut markets and businesses on the island.

The storm was moving northward at 15kmh and was gradually weakening, Xinhua reported, citing the weather bureau.

Some 625 flights at airports in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu were due to be cancelled, CCTV reported, citing the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Several dozen trains connecting Zhejiang with northern and central China had also been cancelled.

More than 250,000 residents in Shanghai and 800,000 in Zhejiang province had been evacuated due to the typhoon, and 2.72 million households in Zhejiang had experienced blackouts as strong winds and rains cut electricity transmission lines, state media reported.

The typhoon also forced the closure of Shanghai Disneyland. No deaths from the storm had been reported in China.

The storm was predicted to reach Jiangsu province by the early hours of Sunday and veer over the Yellow Sea before continuing north and making landfall again in Shandong province, CCTV said.

Coastal businesses in Zhejiang were shut and the Emergency Management Ministry warned of the potential risk of fire, explosions and toxic gas leaks at chemical parks and oil refineries.

- Reuters