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Coast girds itself for Typhoon Muifa

By Yu Ran and Li Xinzhu (China Daily)

14:35, August 06, 2011

Officers patrol a sea bank in Shitang town, Zhejiang province, on Friday, while many tourists gather there to see the huge waves driven by the coming Typhoon Muifa. [Photo/China Daily]

SHANGHAI - Coastal regions in East China are bracing for the powerful Typhoon Muifa, which was expected to make landfall over East China's Zhejiang province on Saturday night or during the daytime on Sunday.

Muifa, the ninth typhoon to hit China this year, was about 745 km southeast of Zhejiang's Zhoushan city at 11 am on Friday, the Central Meteorological Administration said.

The administration issued its first "orange alert" - the second-highest emergency alert possible - for the summer typhoon season. That notification requires local officials to ready themselves to deal with any damage caused by the storm.

Muifa packed winds of up to 162 km an hour near its center and was heading northwest at a speed of 10 km to 15 km an hour, the administration said.

The storm will bring strong winds and torrential rains to parts of Zhejiang, it said.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a circular on Thursday ordering civil affairs agencies in Shanghai and Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi and Shandong provinces to monitor the situation closely and carry out relief work in a timely manner.

Places where relief supplies are held in Hefei, Fuzhou, Wuhan and Changsha were also told to be ready to distribute their stores.

In the cities of Ningbo and Taizhou, in Zhejiang, more than 4,000 vessels have been called back to harbor, and the Zhejiang Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has ordered local authorities in the seaside areas that are likely to be affected by the typhoon to prepare for a possible evacuation.

Zhoushan, a coastal city in Zhejiang and the possible place where the typhoon will first hit the mainland, had called 5,369 more fishing boats back to port by Friday.

"Residents who live in low-lying areas or dilapidated buildings and fishermen have been moved to safer regions to avoid the damage caused by the typhoon since (Friday) morning," Liu Jiepei, deputy director of Zhoushan flood, drought and typhoon control center, told China Daily.

Liu said 11,000 rescue workers in 120 teams have been sent to different places in the city and that they will be at the ready for the next 24 hours to respond to Muifa.

Yao Jianqun, deputy director of the Shanghai Central Meteorological Station of the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, said Muifa could be as powerful as Typhoon Masta, a super typhoon that hit Shanghai from Aug 5 to Aug 7 in 2005, killing four people and causing at least 150 million yuan ($23 million) in damage.

"We must pay extra attention to Muifa since it's just like Masta," said Shen Yu, a senior engineer at the bureau. "It's coming in with strong winds and its center is moving slowly, which will lead to a more persistent effect in the area."

The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said the public should avoid being outdoors for long stretches of time.

In addition, railway authorities in Shanghai warned that bullet train services might be affected by the storm.

"There is a possibility that certain bullet trains departing from Shanghai to cities in Zhejiang province will be canceled or delayed," said Chen Wanjun, deputy director of the publicity department of the Shanghai Railway Bureau.

"The driving speed might also be reduced depending on how large the typhoon is."

The speed at which subways run in the city may also be adjusted in different regions and certain stations will be closed temporarily to ensure the safety of passengers.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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