by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Aug 5, 2011
China evacuated more than 200,000 people on its east coast and cancelled nearly 200 flights Friday in preparation for the most powerful typhoon to hit the country in years.
Typhoon Muifa, which was packing winds of up to 162 kilometres per hour (100 miles per hour), is expected to make landfall on China's east coast on Saturday evening or on Sunday, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The eastern province of Zhejiang, located south of Shanghai, had moved to safety just over 206,000 people from its coastal areas in the path of the typhoon by Friday evening, Xinhua said.
A weather official in Shanghai told local media the city had "basically ruled out" a direct hit, yet warned it might be close.
The typhoon would be the worst to affect China's commercial centre since 2005, when Typhoon Matsa killed seven people.
China Southern Airlines said it would cancel more than 140 flights to the east of the country from Saturday afternoon while flag carrier Air China said it would cancel more than 30 flights, Xinhua said.
Shanghai also warned bullet train services might be slowed or halted because of the storm -- a sensitive issue after a deadly high-speed train crash two weeks ago that was initially blamed on weather conditions.
China had called more than 9,000 fishing boats back to harbour and cancelled ferry services on more than 20 routes.
Muifa lashed Japan's Okinawa island Friday, causing heavy rains, prompting flight cancellations and blackouts and leaving at least a dozen people with mostly light injuries.
China was braced for strong winds and torrential rain. Waves up to 4.5 metres (15 feet) high were expected in coastal areas and up to 12 metres in the East China Sea.
Flights cancelled as typhoon nears Chinese coast
Almost 500,000 people were evacuated as the powerful typhoon was previously forecast to hit the eastern coast near Shanghai over the weekend.
But Muifa changed course while at sea, packing winds of 178 kilometres (110 miles) an hour, the national meteorological centre said Sunday.
The temperamental storm, which has already changed speed and direction several times, is now due either to make landfall in the eastern province of Shandong Monday morning or to keep moving north along the coast, it added.
The two airports in Shanghai halted the majority of flights on Sunday, the Oriental Morning Post said, following the cancellation of more than 200 flights the previous day, which affected nearly 30,000 passengers.
The storm -- which had originally been forecast to be Shanghai's worst since 2005, when Typhoon Matsa killed seven people and caused 1.3 billion yuan ($202 million) in damage -- brought strong winds and rain to the metropolis Sunday.
At least one person went missing in the neighbouring province of Zhejiang when a boat sank, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
But there were no reports of major road blockages or downed trees in the commercial city.
The eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong -- next in line -- were meanwhile bracing for the impact of the storm, evacuating tens of thousands of people and ordering more than 11,000 boats back to shore, media reports said.
Authorities have warned that the typhoon could affect an even wider area than initially predicted if it continues to hug the eastern coast and makes landfall further north.
"In this case, Muifa would affect the whole eastern and northern sea area," the government's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre has said.
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China braces for approaching typhoon Muifa
Shanghai (AFP) Aug 5, 2011
China called more than 7,000 fishing boats back to port on Friday in preparation for Typhoon Muifa, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in recent years, state media said. Authorities in the commercial capital Shanghai warned bullet train services might be affected by the storm - a sensitive issue after a deadly high-speed train crash two weeks ago that was initially blamed on ... read more
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