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China widens evacuations as typhoon nears
by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Aug 6, 2011

China said Saturday that it had evacuated nearly 500,000 people as Typhoon Muifa approached but the storm was likely to miss the commercial capital Shanghai.

The typhoon, originally expected to make landfall near Shanghai, could blow by the city and instead move north towards Shandong province, the National Meteorological Centre of China said in a statement on its website.

Muifa was still packing winds of up to 144 km per hour, it said.

Shanghai weather officials were quoted by local media as saying the typhoon could still make landfall in China, perhaps near Qingdao city, famous for Tsingtao Beer.

Separately, the official Xinhua news agency said more than 10 boats carrying some 200 fishermen were missing off China's eastern coast due to the storm.

But an official in the eastern province of Zhejiang, near where the boats went missing, told AFP the vessels had been found. China had already called more than 10,000 boats back to port ahead of the storm.

The government's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre warned the storm could impact an even wider area if it hugged the eastern coast and made landfall further north.

"In this case, Muifa would affect the whole eastern and northern sea area," it said.

The typhoon would still bring strong winds and torrential rains to a wide band of eastern China.

The government had issued its highest alert for waves, with crests of up to 11 metres high on the open sea and up to seven metres in coastal areas.

Shanghai began mass evacuations on Saturday, moving nearly 200,000 people to safety, Shanghai television said. China's eastern Zhejiang province had evacuated more than 206,000 and southern Fujian province another 80,400, Xinhua said.

Transport services felt the impact of Muifa. Shanghai's two airports had scrapped at least 240 flights Saturday and more cancellations were expected Sunday. Major carrier China Southern Airlines said it had cancelled 128 flights to eastern China.

Shanghai warned it may limit or halt metro services due to a typhoon for the first time ever, while bullet train services in eastern China could also be disrupted.

But sunny skies persisted in Shanghai well into late afternoon with shops and restaurants full of patrons. "There is no impact from the typhoon yet. We're fully booked tonight," said a worker at a popular downtown restaurant.

The typhoon was originally forecast to be Shanghai's worst since 2005, when Typhoon Matsa killed seven people and caused 1.3 billion yuan ($202 million) in damage.

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Taiwan typhoon victims 'seek $68 mln' compensation
Taipei (AFP) Aug 6, 2011 - Victims of a deadly typhoon that devastated Taiwan nearly two years ago are seeking $68 million in compensation from the authorities for their "flawed rescue," a report said Saturday.

About 309 residents of Hsiaolin village in southern Kaohsiung city demanded the city government and a local township office pay $52 million for late rescue during Typhoon Morakot in August 2009, said the state Central News Agency.

Another group of 35 villagers filed a separate petition against the forestry bureau and the water resources agency, seeking $16 million in compensation, the report said.

The residents argued that the authorities failed to efficiently monitor mudslides and evacuate the village in time, which resulted in massive deaths and financial losses, it said.

The Kaohsiung city government will submit a report on its rescue efforts to the state compensation review board which will rule on the cases, it added.

Morakot, the worst storm to hit Taiwan in half a century, left more than 600 dead, including 400 people from the village that was buried by mudslides triggered by torrential rains.

The disaster had plunged President Ma Ying-jeou into his worst political crisis since taking office in May 2008, amid widespread public criticism that his government's response was late and inefficient.

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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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