What makes a vacation unforgettable? For tourists spending their 7-day Golden Week national holiday in Fujian Province, probably a typhoon. As Typhoon Fitow approached Eastern China, waves surged over 20-meters high, and covered residences along the coast.
The impressive waves killed at least five people and damaged three dikes. The Central Meteorological Observatory reported Fitow is the strongest typhoon to hit China's shores in the month of October since 1951. It affected over 3 million people in Zhejiang and caused economic damage of over 2 billion yuan (approximately $330 million).
While over half a million people evacuated from their homes and fishing boats returned to shore, tourists ignored official warnings. On Sunday, authorities issued a red alert, the highest of China's four-tier weather warning system. But the holiday-makers remained oblivious to the dangers of the 23rd tropical storm that hit China this year. Or, they just wanted some excitement after Zhejiang and Fujian officials closed coastal tourist attractions and suspended sight-seeing activities.
A newscast by China Network Television showed footage of Chinese tourists gathering along the coast and brandishing their smart-phones to capture the giant waves. They did not want to miss this photo opportunity.
In the Shitang town of Wenling City, in Zhejiang Province, tourists huddled together in a pavilion, shielding their cameras from the water while trying to take good pictures. Women in miniskirts and heels scattered away as the waves crashed upon them, holding on to their handbags.
(Photo credit: China Daily/Reuters)
In a beach in Lungfengtou, in Pingtan County, a man stripped to his swimming trunks and leaped into the water, arms open to embrace the water.
In Haining City, also in Zhejiang, two men climbed down a dike to fish. They were reluctant to budge when authorities told them to leave. "When the tide comes, you won't be able to hide in time. Not even if you run," an official warned, shouting down at them. Ten minutes after they left, a huge wave descended onto their exact spot.
A few tourists may have some good pictures, but the majority will have a stressful time getting home. Eleven thousdand tourists were affected as authorities suspended bullet train and coach service in several cities in the area. Wenzhou's airport cancelled 27 flights. To make matters worse, regions further north, such as Huabei and Huanghuai, were affected by a heavy haze. Several highways had to be shut down and over 100 flights were delayed.
Typhoon Fitow is now moving north-west and is expected to weaken. However, it's not over yet. Typhoon Danas, is predicted to enter the East China Sea Monday evening. This will be one more shot for those who didn't manage to snap a good photo.