Typhoon Lekima
© Nasa Earth Observatory Handout/EPA
Typhoon Lekima was expected to dump 90cm (35m inches) on parts of Taiwan before hitting mainland China early on Saturday.

Strongest storm in five years has already cancelled 300 flights and cut power to 40,000 homes in Taiwan

China's weather bureau issued a red alert as super typhoon Lekima approaches Zhejiang province on the eastern coast, after forcing flight cancellations in Taiwan and shutting markets and businesses.

The National Meteorological Centre said the typhoon, the strongest since 2014, was expected to hit the mainland in early on Saturday and then turn north. It has issued gale warnings for the Yangtze river delta region, which includes China's financial hub of Shanghai, a city of 26 million people.

Taiwan has already cancelled flights and ordered markets and schools to close on Friday as the typhoon headed northwest, cutting power to more than 40,000 homes and forcing the island's high-speed rail to suspend most of its services.

The island's authorities issued landslide warnings after an earthquake of magnitude 6 struck its northeastern coast on Thursday, hours before the typhoon approached. It was forecast to bring rainfall of up to 90cm (35 inches) in its northern mountains.

More than 300 flights to and from Taiwan have been cancelled and cruise liners have been asked to delay their arrival in Shanghai. Some trains from Shanghai have also suspended ticket sales over the weekend.

Heavy rain and level-10 gales were expected to hit Shanghai on Friday and continue until Sunday, with 16,000 suburban residents set to be evacuated, the official Shanghai Daily reported.

China's ministry of water resources has also warned of flood risks in the eastern, downstream sections of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers until Wednesday.

China is routinely hit by typhoons in its hot summer months but weather officials said last week they have been relatively infrequent so far this year. In September, more than 2.4 million people were in Guangdong because of typhoon Mangkhut.