Taipei- China has evacuated more than half a million residents along its southeastern coast ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Haitang, which battered Taiwan a day earlier.
Haitang was blamed for at least three deaths in Taiwan, news agencies reported, after it hit just south of the capital Taipei at typhoon strength.
Another 29 people were injured as the typhoon”s lashing winds and torrential rain toppled trucks as if they were toys and firefighters tried to clear the roads of fallen trees, billboards and other debris.
While the storm has since been downgraded, Southeastern China”s Fujian province is feeling the first effects, with rain and occasional wind.
More than 800,000 people have fled their homes to temporary shelters, while 5,000 armed police have been mobilized, with reservoirs and dikes monitored, The Associated Press reported.
The once super-strong storm is packing maximum wind speeds of 126 kilometers per hour (78 mph) and gusts of up to 162 mph, making it a moderate typhoon, according to Taiwan”s Central Weather Bureau.
The storm, named after a Chinese flower, was moving slowly across the Taiwan Strait and is expected to make landfall Tuesday evening, several meteorological agencies in the region predicted.
Earlier China”s official Xinhua news agency had said it would reach land by midday.
Fishing boats and merchant ships have also been ordered to return to port by authorities in the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, Xinhua said, while a number of local airports have been closed.
China”s commercial capital of Shanghai is also threatened by the typhoon, Xinhua reported, with levels in the river nearing the warning level.