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Typhoon Muifa weakens as it moves near China's key eastern ports

08-08-2011 08:18 BJT

WEIHAI, Shandong, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Typhoon Muifa, the ninth typhoon to hit China this year, is weakening as it moves towards the country's key northeastern ports after forcing the evacuation of 610,000 residents on its course along the affluent and densely-populated east coast, authorities said Sunday.

A fisherman reinfoces his vessel in Fengcheng fishing port of Haiyang, east China's Shandong Province, Aug. 7, 2011. The typhoon Muifa, 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. In Shandong, the local weather forecast bureau said the typhoon might further weaken into a tropical storm when it lands, even so authorities continued to order about 20,000 fishing boats to lay anchor in harbors. (Xinhua/Guo Xulei)

Muifa, bringing gusts up to 178 km per hour, is moving at 25 km per hour towards the Shandong Peninsula where it is expected to make landfall Monday morning near the port of Weihai before heading to the port of Dalian and nearby areas, national and local meteorological centers said.

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

The oilfield, operated by China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group), has 102 off-shore platforms which extract oil from 524 wells with a daily output of 8,000 tonnes, according to the Shengli Oilfield Administration.

Rescuers come to the tourists' rescue on the Xiaomai Island in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, Aug. 7, 2011. A total of 53 tourists got stranded on the Xiaomai Island Sunday as Typhoon Muifa approaches.(Xinhua/Li Ziheng)

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.

Disaster relief teams were also called to standby in Dalian, a key industrial port in northeastern Liaoning Province.

In Beijing, an emergency meeting chaired by Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei, also deputy head of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, was held Sunday to arrange prevention measures.

The headquarters ordered two more provinces -- Jilin and Heilongjiang in the northeast, to beef up disaster relief efforts as the typhoon heads towards them. The province of Hebei, which is near Beijing, has reported rainfall caused by the typhoon.

Workers reinforce the bank of seashore before the approaching of Typhoon Muifa in Rushan, east China's Shandong Province, Aug. 7, 2011. Typhoon Muifa was predicted to make landfall in the coastal areas of Shangdong Province on Sunday. (Xinhua/Liu Guoxian)

More than 610,000 people were evacuated from dangerous areas in Shanghai and the provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang and Shandong, the country's disaster relief agency said. More than 62,700 vessels were ordered to dock.

In Shandong, the local weather forecast bureau said the typhoon might further weaken into a tropical storm when it lands, even so authorities continued to order 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 Shandong's coast most likely to be hit hardest by the typhoon.

Also in Shandong, 18 flights departing or arriving at Qingdao airport on the coast were canceled Sunday. Most of the canceled 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 water submerged the rock bridge linking it to the mainland.

In the port city of Dalian in Liaoning Province, to the north of Qingdao, authorities ended an annual beer festival two days ahead of schedule.

Muifa, originally a powerful typhoon, swirled into the East China Sea 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, according to official statistics.

Maritime officials in Zhejiang Province 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 Zhejiang, the rain and strong winds triggered by the typhoon brought down 169 houses, destroyed the harvest of 3,500 tonnes of crops and 121,300 tonnes of aquatic products. Direct economic losses were estimated at 1.87 billion yuan (289.9 million U.S. dollars), according to the provincial disaster relief agency.

To the province's north, heavy rain also drenched Shanghai. 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.

Gusts have blown away billboards and cut power in some areas, local disaster relief officials said. By Sunday afternoon, almost 80 percent of 181 damaged power lines had been restored, Shanghai's power company said.

Meanwhile, the city on Sunday lifted the sailing ban on international passenger vessels and cruises as waters calmed.


Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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