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Shanghai breathes sigh of relief as typhoon passes

(Shanghai Daily)

08:40, August 08, 2011

Typhoon Muifa weakened as it approached China's coast yesterday, avoiding a direct-hit on Shanghai and heading north toward Shandong Province.

Although its influence was not as serious as forecasters had predicted, gales and rain did have a disrupting effect on the city.

Airport officials said that 275 flights had been canceled by 5pm yesterday, compared to Saturday's 260.

Hongqiao International Airport, which was less affected than the Pudong airport, operated 24 hours yesterday and added flights to help get passengers on their way.

Normal services should have resumed by today.

The city's Metro slowed down for the first time yesterday with subway trains running at 30 kilometers per hour, around half their normal speed, along Metro Line 2's overground section to Pudong International Airport.

The slowdown began about 10:10am and lasted until 2pm after the trains "saw a little bit shaking during operation." To offset the possible safety threat posed by strong winds, the trains changed to manual operation and slowed down.

At sea, the city's maritime safety administration said it waited until around 2pm yesterday before arranging for the 2,000 ships and vessels that had sheltered at local ports to leave so they could escape the worth of the gales.

Shanghai's Yangshan Deep-water Port, which saw the most powerful winds, was still off-limits to large ships late yesterday.

Ferry services to Chongming, Changxing and Hengsha islands were suspended.

The Yangtze and East Sea bridges, two major sea bridges linking the urban area to outlying islands, were closed to traffic because of the gales, local traffic authorities said.

Over the weekend, more than 312,000 people had been evacuated from the coastal areas in Jinshan and Fengxian districts, a new record for the city, the Shanghai Flood Control Headquarters said.

They were taken to hotels and schools but returned home yesterday afternoon.

From Saturday night to yesterday morning, more than 2,000 trees in Pudong, Xuhui, Changning and Chongming were blown down, along with more than 200 outdoor billboards. However, there were no reports of anyone being injured.

Around 200 overhead power wires were damaged, mostly in the Pudong New Area and in Chongming County.

The Shanghai Electric Power Co Ltd said the wires were pulled down when trees fell on them.

Up to yesterday afternoon, most had been repaired and power restored. The rest were expected to be fixed early today, officials said.

A 24-year-old swimmer went missing in heavy surf, Shanghai Television reported.

The city canceled outdoor activities and placed rescuers on high alert over the weekend as Muifa approached.

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