Typhoon Muifa lashes Okinawa, approaches China

China has called more than 7,000 fishing boats back to port in preparation for Typhoon Muifa.

Beijing: China has called more than 7,000 fishing boats back to port in preparation for Typhoon Muifa, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in recent years, according to state media.

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 weather conditions.

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 at the weekend.

The National Meteorological Centre said the typhoon was forecast to land in Zhejiang or Jiangsu province, both of which neighbour Shanghai, on Saturday evening or during the day on Sunday.

The official Xinhua news agency said 7,000 fishing boats had been called back to harbour and local governments were preparing for possible evacuation of residents.

Strong winds, torrential rain and waves of up to 2.5 metres high were expected in coastal areas.

The typhoon could also affect the eastern provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi and Shandong, the Ministry of Civil Affairs warned.

The storm decreased in power on Wednesday night, going from a super typhoon to a severe typhoon, but is still expected to be one of the most powerful storms to hit China in recent years.

Meanwhile, Muifa neared Japan`s Okinawa island on Friday, lashing it with heavy rains, sparking flights cancellations and blackouts and leaving at least a dozen people with mostly light injuries.

The typhoon was 70 kilometres southwest of Naha city, Okinawa, at 0400 GMT, packing gusts of up to 216 kilometres per hour, said the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The storm caused power blackouts in more than 60,000 homes, led government offices and many business to shut down, and saw airlines cancel all flights to and from the island prefecture for the day.

The Okinawa government said it had received reports of 12 injuries. All cases were minor, except for a woman in her 60s who broke her thighbone.

Okinawa Electric Power said 62,400 of a total 517,200 customer households in the prefecture were without power as of the early afternoon.

Bureau Report

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