Over 5.5 million people affected by largest typhoon to hit China in 40 years

Published: 21 July 2014 11:38 CET

By Francis Markus, IFRC

The Red Cross Society of China deployed emergency teams and mobilised relief supplies to help communities battered by Super Typhoon Rammasun, described as the severest storm to hit the country in more than 40 years.

“We have to start supporting the affected communities to recover and reconstruct their homes now, although our own premises are also in a mess; the roof and windows were broken by strong winds. The water and electricity has been cut off in most places. Houses collapsed;  uprooted trees are lying on the street and need to be cleared, “ said Xiao Dan, spokesperson for the Red Cross branch in Hainan Province.

17 dead and millions affected

Chinese authorities said at least 17 people died and more than 5.57 million people are affected by the typhoon, which swept across the tropical island province of Hainan and brought torrential rains and violent winds as it crossed over to Guangdong and Guangxi provinces on the mainland. In the worst-affected province, Hainan, officials said more than 51,000 houses were destroyed.

“The tide rose much faster than we expected. After only half an hour, the water was up to one meter high and the whole island was overwhelmed,” a local resident, Chen Yijun, in Beigang, at the northern end of Hainan Island told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

As the storm system swept towards southern China from the Philippines, where it left more than 90 people dead, the Red Cross Society’s branches in Hainan and Guangxi activated their highest-level emergency procedures and deployed three Emergency Response Teams.

In order to support the population in the worst-hit provinces, the society mobilised nearly 5,000 family kits containing household items, thousands of quilts and jackets and more than 200 tents, as well as CNY 200,000/CHF29,000 worth of rice to help provide food for people displaced by the typhoon.

Red Cross relief teams

Red Cross emergency water rescue and relief teams worked alongside local authorities to reach cut off communities and as the storm receded, provincial branches immediately deployed assessment and coordination teams to the most affected areas.

As communities in the areas worst-affected by Rammasun began the lengthy clearing up operation, meteorologists warned that another storm system, Matmo, could be heading towards Taiwan and southeastern areas of Mainland China by around Wednesday 23rd July.

Southern parts of China and neighbouring southeast Asian countries are often hit by as many as 20 typhoons in the course of the summer and autumn months.

But climate researchers are concerned that warming oceans, due to the effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, could be playing a part in strengthening the impact of tropical storms.

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