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Shandong braces for typhoon

By Ju Chuanjiang  (China Daily)

09:09, August 08, 2011

High billows are seen in Zhanqiao sea area in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, Aug. 7, 2011. 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, forcing the evacuation of 610,000 residents on its course, authorities said Sunday. The typhoon, bringing gusts up to 178 km per hour, is moving at 25 km per hour towards the coast of Shandong Province where it is expected to make landfall Monday morning, the National Meteorological Center said in a bulletin. (Xinhua/Huang Jiexian)

Typhoon Muifa, the ninth typhoon to hit China this year, weakened as it approached the coastal areas of Zhejiang province on Sunday morning, before it turned north to the coastal area of Shandong province.

Eighteen flights departing from or arriving at Qingdao airport on the coast were canceled on Sunday. Most of those flights were headed for southern cities, such as Shanghai or Hangzhou.

Using ropes, police rescued 53 tourists, who were briefly stranded on an island off the port of Qingdao as surging waters submerged a rock bridge linking it to the mainland.

Rizhao, a coastal tourist city in Shandong province, has ordered the closure of all scenic spots and seawater pools to prevent accidents.

Crews working on the off-shore platforms of Shengli Oilfield, China's key oil production base located near Weihai, started to evacuate Sunday.

About 400 migrant laborers from Sichuan province, who were living along the coast in Qingdao, were transferred in an urgent operation on Sunday to nearby primary and middle schools.

The local community service center and the neighborhood committee helped to move the workers on Sunday as the powerful typhoon threatened to hit Shandong Peninsula.

At an emergency meeting before the arrival of the typhoon, Xia Geng, mayor of Qingdao, emphasized that emergency measures must focus on the safety of local residents and tourists. He said that people must be evacuated from danger areas.

With the peak tourist season on now, major tourist activities, especially in the open air, were to be stopped immediately, and delivery of daily living supplies had to be guaranteed, he said.

Warnings about the coming typhoon and the dangers of open-air activities were sent as phone messages, and frequent weather forecasts were broadcast to locals.

All preparations for the 21st Qingdao International Beer Festival, which begins next Saturday, have been halted.

The Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, the world's longest cross-sea bridge which recently opened to traffic, was closed as the typhoon drew closer on Sunday night.

If the rainfall brought by Muifa exceeds 100 millimeters, water in 50 out of about 140 large and medium-sized reservoirs in Shandong may overflow, said Du Changwen, head of the provincial water resources bureau.

Xinhua News Agency reported more than 610,000 people were evacuated from threatened areas in Shanghai and the provinces of Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shandong, the country's most affluent and populated areas. More than 62,700 vessels were also ordered to dock in these areas.

No deaths have been reported so far.

The National Meteorological Center said on Sunday that moving at a speed of 25 km/h, Typhoon Muifa was likely to hit land at the eastern part of Shandong Peninsula early on Monday morning.

Muifa, which had been expected to reach land at Shanghai, still caused problems in the city over the weekend.

Despite preparations, gales and rain affected 54 electrical power lines and more than 58 trees in Xuhui, Changning districts, fell and blocked roads.

"Typhoon Muifa didn't create severe damage in the city, but it did affect some districts closer to the coast, such as Fengxian and Nanhui," said Fu Yi, chief executive officer of Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

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