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China evacuates 200,000 ahead of typhoon

China evacuated 200,000 people on Tuesday and closed schools in its largest city to prepare for what forecasters say will be the most powerful typhoon to hit Shanghai in a decade.

 China evacuates 200,000 ahead of typhoon
China evacuated 200,000 people on Tuesday and closed schools in its largest city to prepare for what forecasters say will be the most powerful typhoon to hit Shanghai in a decade.

The fringes of Typhoon Wipha lashed northern Taiwan, where schools, offices and the stock market closed. A construction worker was killed when the storm's winds — projected to reach 180 mph at the storm's height — knocked down scaffolding, Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center said.

City authorities ordered schools closed Wednesday in Shanghai, a city of more than 20 million and China's financial hub. Chinese state-run television showed families being evacuated from their fishing boats and other vessels. Shopkeepers stacked sand bags to prevent flooding as drains clogged amid torrential rains.

The typhoon, whipping up waves up to 36 feet high, was moving northwest toward the Chinese mainland. Weather reports forecast it would make landfall south of Shanghai early Wednesday morning.

Wipha, a woman's name in Thai, was upgraded from a tropical storm Monday.

"The typhoon is very likely to develop into the worst one in recent years," said a man who answered the phone at the city's meteorological bureau. As is common with Chinese officials, the man identified himself only by his surname, Fu.

Shanghai and the coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian to the south issued typhoon warnings requiring all vessels to return to shore or change course to avoid the storm, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Some 200,000 people living in coastal or low-lying rural areas of Shanghai were being evacuated, as were parts of Zhejiang, Xinhua said.

It said nearly 30,000 fishing boats in the province had taken shelter in port by late Monday and ferry service with outlying islands was suspended.

The deadliest storm to hit the China coast in recent years was Typhoon Winnie in 1997, which killed 236 people. Typhoon Rananim, with winds of more than 100 mph, was the strongest typhoon to hit the Chinese mainland since 1956, killing nearly 200 people.

AP
Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2007, 12:10
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