China evacuates 500,000 as typhoon nears

China`s meteorological authorities said the typhoon will bring heavy rains to coastal regions.

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

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

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 a news agency 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 today, 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 today and more
cancellations were expected tomorrow.

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


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