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Typhoon Wipha heads north after hitting east China
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08:21, September 20, 2007

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Typhoon Wipha, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm, is moving northwards after crashing into east China's coast and claiming five lives in Zhejiang Province.

The number of fatalities in east China resulting from the impact of typhoon Wipha has risen to five, and three others are missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Wednesday evening.

The ministry said the deaths were caused by landslides triggered by Wipha. A total of 2.67 million people in Zhejiang, Fujian, Shanghai and Jiangsu had been relocated by 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The typhoon also destroyed more than 9,600 houses and damaged 42,000 others.

However, residents in the coastal city of Wenzhou that suffers from typhoon all through the ages said effective preparations have greatly reduced casualties and losses.

In Zhejiang alone, 1.79 million people have been relocated before Wipha came, which was the largest mass evacuation in the history of the province. Not all these were moving from sea to land-- more than half a million were evacuated just because their houses were not in good conditions.

There were no reports of death from Cangnan, Wenzhou where Wipha made its landfall.

Wang Jianman, party chief of Wenzhou, said "I would rather be blamed (for the evacuation) before the typhoon comes than hear weeps after the typhoon hits land."

Wipha entered the inland province of Anhui at 7 p.m. Wednesday and is moving northwest at a speed of 20 km per hour, after causing 14 hours of havoc in Zhejiang where it made landfall, according to Pan Jinsong, vice director of the Zhejiang Meteorological Station.

The wind speed at its eye has reduced to 72 km per hour from 83km per hour eight hours ago, Pan said.

Wipha could enter Jiangsu Province in the small hours of Thursday and then go to the Yellow Sea, said China Meteorological Administration.

Typhoon Wipha hit Wenzhou, in Zhejiang Province, at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday but was downgraded to a tropical storm at 11 a.m.

It has brought heavy downpours to Jiangsu, with rainfall in some cities reaching more than 150 millimeters.

More than 39,000 people in the province have been relocated from coastal and low-lying areas, and 12,000 vessels have been recalled to harbor. Schools were closed on Wednesday in Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou and Yancheng.

Neighboring Shandong province issued a typhoon warning on Wednesday, forecasting rainstorms across the province in the next 24 hours and high tides. All boats and ships in Qingdao and Yantai have been recalled.

A women's World Cup football match between Australia and Canada, which had been planned for Wednesday in Chengdu, has been moved to Thursday. Another match between Norway and Ghana has been put off to 5 p.m. on Thursday and moved from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

Wipha has paralyzed traffic along the east coast of China since its landfall.

Latest statistics from the local flood control authorities show the typhoon has affected more than 6.5 million people in Fujian and Zhejiang, wrecking thousands of homes and inflicting economic losses of more than 4.8 billion yuan (638 million U.S. dollars). The figures are expected to rise.

The Zhejiang marine authorities sounded the all clear on Tuesday evening and more than 30,000 vessels are expected to return to sea on Thursday.

The power grid in Fuding, Fujian Province, rebuilt after being destroyed by the devastating typhoon Saomai last year, was badly damaged.

The power was cut in urban areas of Fuding at 3:00 on Wednesday while the city received 153 mm of rain between 8 a.m. on Tuesday and 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua



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