| Powerful typhoon heads for China's financial hub
| Tuesday, September 18, 2007
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A powerful typhoon targeted China's booming eastern province of Zhejiang and financial hub Shanghai on Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of tens of thousands of people as ships and boats were called back to port.
Typhoon Wipha was 440 km (270 miles) southeast of the former foreign treaty port of Wenzhou in Zhejiang at 0300 GMT. With gusts of up to 198 km per hour, it was moving northwest at 20 km per hour, Xinhua news agency said, putting it on a course to skirt Taiwan.
"East China, including the commercial hub of Shanghai, is preparing for what may be the most destructive typhoon in a decade," the agency said.
It did not mention Typhoon Saomai, which killed 436 people in southeast China in August and was labeled the strongest storm to hit China in 50 years.
The Hong Kong Observatory chart showed Wipha heading directly for Zhejiang where it was likely to make landfall early on Wednesday and sweep north across the province towards Shanghai.
China's National Meteorological Centre described the storm on its Web site (www.nmc.gov.cn) as a "super typhoon".
About 200,000 people living in exposed areas in Shanghai, bordering Zhejiang in the north and with a population of over 14 million, would be moved to temporary shelter before evening.
Tens of thousands of boats and ships had returned to harbor in Zhejiang, where beach resorts and sea farms were evacuated and ferry services suspended, state media said.
"Wipha will hit our province head on and the areas affected would be the most economically developed and densely populated," the Zhejiang provincial government warned.
"Strong winds will come with heavy rainfall ... The relief work will be complicated and grave," it said in a statement on its Web site (www.zj.gov.cn).
Zhejiang's inland areas also faced the threats of floods and landslides caused by torrential rain, it said.
The edge of Wipha grazed northern Taiwan on Tuesday, bringing downpours and prompting the area to close schools, offices and markets.
The major northern port of Keelung stopped all traffic on Tuesday until further notice, while five airlines cancelled some international flights.
Typhoons, large cyclones known as hurricanes in the West, regularly hit China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan in the summer season, gathering strength from the warm waters of the Pacific or the South China Sea before weakening over land.
Sometimes they make a u-turn, gather strength at sea again, and return to wreak more havoc.
|posted by Moderator Londen time 1:02 PM