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Planet Ark World Environment News Powerful Typhoon Targets Eastern China, Shanghai

Date: 19-Sep-07
Country: CHINA

Typhoon Wipha was about 300 km southeast of Wenling city at
0800 GMT. With gusts of up to 198 km per hour (123 mph), it was
moving northwest at 25 to 30 km per hour and should make
landfall in the early hours of Wednesday, Xinhua news agency
said.

"East China, including the commercial hub of Shanghai, is
preparing for what may be the most destructive typhoon in a
decade," the agency said.

The intensity of the typhoon was close to that of Saomai,
which killed more than 400 people in China last August and was
labelled the strongest storm to hit the country in 50 years,
said Chen Hongyi, deputy chief of the meteorological bureau in
the coastal city of Taizhou, Xinhua reported.

China's National Meteorological Centre described the storm
on its Web site (www.nmc.gov.cn) as a "super typhoon".

By Tuesday evening 1.63 million people in Shanghai,
Zhejiang and neighbouring Fujian province had been evacuated,
Xinhua said. Shanghai and surrounding cities had ordered all
schools to close.

"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).

ZOO, OIL RIG BUNKER DOWN

Tens of thousands of boats and ships had returned to
harbour in Zhejiang, where beach resorts and sea farms were
evacuated and ferry services suspended, state media said. Some
365 workers were also pulled off the Pinghu oil rig in the East
China Sea.

Shanghai faced its most severe test in decades, the deputy
head of the city's flood control headquarters said.

By late Tuesday some streets were blocked and traffic
slowed to a crawl in older areas of the city centre, as
flooding in some places reached levels of nearly a metre, and
underground car parks were inundated.

Two zoos in the city caged their animals to prevent any
making escape bids along fallen trees, cut off power supplies
to prevent fires and boosted staffing.

Zhejiang's inland areas also faced the threats of floods
and landslides caused by torrential rain. By Tuesday evening,
some rivers and reservoirs had risen to warning levels, Xinhua
said.

The edge of Wipha grazed northern Taiwan on Tuesday,
bringing downpours and prompting closure of schools, offices
and markets.

The major northern port of Keelung halted all traffic on
Tuesday until further notice. 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 can make a u-turn, gather strength at sea
again, and return to wreak more havoc.

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