Typhoon Talim in East Asia and wildfires in Greece
East Asia: Typhoon Talim triggers evacuations in China and Vietnam
Authorities evacuated more than 250,000 people across several provinces of southern China and northern Vietnam in preparation for Typhoon Talim, which made landfall in China’s Guangdong Province on the evening of July 17 with maximum sustained winds of 136 km/h (85 mph). China’s Guangdong and Hainan provinces, in addition to the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region – where Talim made a second landfall on July 18 after weakening into a severe tropical storm – experienced the most disruption due to heavy rain, strong winds, and flooding. Talim triggered both ground and air travel interruptions across southern China as hundreds of trains were suspended in Hainan and Guangdong, including the high-speed train route between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Zhuhai Jinwan Airport in Guangdong, as well as Meilan International and Qionghai Boao airports in Hainan, canceled dozens of flights on July 17. Local authorities in Guangdong and Hainan evacuated more than 41,000 fishing vessels, 36,600 fishermen, and nearly 8,300 fish-farming workers and ordered the closure of 68 coastal tourist destinations ahead of the storm. Authorities in Hong Kong canceled trading in the city’s stock market and suspended government and public transportation services on July 17; flight cancelations or delays also impacted more than 1,000 travelers at Hong Kong International Airport. While Talim did not result in casualties or significant damage to critical infrastructure, local media reported power outages and damage to private property – mostly vehicles – in the coastal city of Beihai. According to China’s meteorological center, Talim weakened into a tropical depression by the evening of July 18 and dissipated in northern Vietnam on July 19. However, heavy rainfall will likely persist in coastal provinces of Southern China, complicating the ongoing recovery efforts. Rainfall, urban flooding, and landslides are also forecast for the northern Vietnamese provinces of Quang Ninh, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, and Yen Bai in the coming days.
Greece: Wildfires elude containment efforts
Greek authorities are battling to contain wildfires in the densely populated Attica region as a second heatwave threatens to disrupt recovery efforts. The fires are burning in several areas near Athens: 80 km (50 miles) to the west of the capital in Kallithea, 29 km (18 miles) north in Dervenochoria, and 27 km (17 miles) south in Neos Kouvaras. Authorities identified a total of 81 wildfires as of July 17, with isolated fires observed near Kallithea in Loutraki as early as July 8. A state of emergency was declared in Loutraki on July 18, while thousands of residents throughout the capital region have been evacuated from affected areas along the coast to hotels and schools located further inland. Over 400 firefighters, soldiers, and volunteers are battling the fires using fire engines, helicopters, and water-dumping planes – including four Canadair “water bombers” dispatched by the EU. Fires in Neos Kouvaras have been contained as of July 19, after strong winds had caused them to spread 12km in just two hours. The fire in Neos Kouvaras was allegedly started by a foreign citizen, who has since been detained by Greek authorities. The remaining fires occurred spontaneously; contributing factors have included an unusually dry winter, a recent heatwave, and strong coastal winds. The wildfire season in Greece typically begins in late June and lasts for around 12 weeks, as in other Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, and Morocco experiencing extreme summer heat. Greek recovery efforts from deadly wildfires in 2018 and 2021 lasted several weeks, though its current efforts are likely to be hampered by the mountainous local terrain and a second heatwave forecast to begin within the next few days. Further wildfires and delayed recovery efforts are likely through the conclusion of this year’s wildfire season around the end of August.