China has issued a red alert as a typhoon bringing torrential rain and gales descends on its eastern coast, threatening an intense storm surge up the Yangtze river.
Flood prevention efforts are being stepped up along Asia’s longest waterway in the wake of the top-level warning, which has also led authorities to ready evacuations, suspend train and air travel and call for vessels to return to port.
Typhoon Lekima is expected to bring heavy rain and storm-force winds to Zhejiang, Shanghai and other neighbouring provinces before making landfall on Saturday.
The typhoon has already forced Taiwan to cancel flights and order the closure of markets, offices and schools.
It also left more than 40,000 homes without power on the island, where the authorities have issued landslide warnings following an earlier earthquake.
China’s National Meteorological Centre said Lekima, gusting at 130mph, was the strongest typhoon since 2014.
It warned 24-hour rainfall levels across eastern China could reach up to 32cm (13in).
Cruise liners have been asked to delay their arrival in Shanghai, while some ships are set to be diverted to Hong Kong to help prevent accidents and collisions.
In Zhejiang, the ferry service has been cancelled and more than 200 tourists evacuated from Beiji island.
Three main streams of the Yangtze are likely to exceed alert levels.
The commission overseeing the river for the ministry of water resources has directed efforts to prevent floods and over-saturation of levees along its banks.