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Typhoon Muifa weakens as it moves along China's east coast


16:30, August 07, 2011

Policemen help fishermen to take precautions for the approaching of Typhoon Muifa in Yantai, east China's Shandong Province, Aug. 7, 2011. Typhoon Muifa was predicted to make landfall in the coastal areas of Shangdong Province on Sunday, according to the Shangdong meteorological department. (Xinhua/Zang Baodong)

Typhoon Muifa, the ninth typhoon to hit China this year, is weakening as it moves further north along the country's affluent and densely-populated eastern coast, weather forecast authorities said Sunday.

The typhoon, bringing gusts up to 178 km per hour, is moving at 25 km per hour toward the coast of Shandong Province where it is expected to make landfall Monday morning, the National Meteorological Center said in a bulletin.

In Shandong, the local weather forecast bureau said the typhoon might further weaken into a tropical storm when it lands but the authorities still had ordered about 20,000 fishing boats to lay anchor in harbors.

Maritime authorities on Sunday also requested vessels to either leave or stay clear from those parts of the coast most likely to be hit worst by the typhoon.

Muifa, originally a powerful typhoon, swirled into the East China Sea on Friday morning. High wave warnings were issued for coastal provinces.

"People were worried it could be another Saomai, a super typhoon in 2006, but it weakened and the level of danger has been reduced," read the weather forecast bulletin.

Typhoon Saomai killed at least 460 people in east China and forced the evacuation of over 1.5 million. Direct economic losses totaled 20 billion yuan, official statistics showed.

Maritime officials in Zhejiang Province on late Saturday reported that 35 fishing boats loaded with 300 people, which were earlier reportedly missing off the coast of Shandong, had been found along Zhejiang's coast.

The boats were tugged to the bay of Zhoushan and all the people on board were safe, the officials said.

In Shanghai and Zhejiang, more than 540,000 local residents were evacuated as the typhoon approached. No casualties had been reported in the typhoon-hit areas.

About 190 flights were canceled since Saturday in Shanghai's two airports while two major sea bridges linking the urban area to outlying islands were also closed.

Heavy rain has drenched Shanghai. Gusts blew away billboards and cut off power lines in some areas, local disaster relief officials said.

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