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Typhoon slams into eastern Chinese city

September 11, 2005

By Nick Macfie

BEIJING (Reuters) – A typhoon made a direct hit on a
sprawling city in prosperous eastern China on Sunday after
nearly a million villagers and farmers had been evacuated from
flimsy coastal and hillside huts to safety.

Typhoon Khanun, which spared the island of Taiwan on
Saturday after forecasts predicted a near direct hit, made
landfall in China’s mountainous Zhejiang province, where storms
regularly trigger fatal floods and landslides.

The new city of Taizhou, with a population of over 5
million, took the full brunt, a city government official said,
adding that those evacuated by the army had been taken to
schools, railway stations, hotels and other solid buildings for
protection.

“Signboards have been blown down and definitely trees will
be uprooted and houses damaged,” the official said, adding that
330,000 people had been moved to safety in Taizhou alone.

“It’s too early to talk about damage to property.”

With its zigzag coastline, Taizhou is home to several
ports, one being Taizhou Bay Haimen, with more than 10,000
tonnes of handling capacity.

In nearby Leqing Bay is China’s largest tidal power
station.

Xinhua news agency said Zhejiang had so far evacuated
814,267 people to safer places. About 35,400 ships and other
vessels had returned to port.

The ancient trade port of Ningbo was directly in the path
of the storm which was unleashing maximum sustained winds of up
to 110 miles per hour (177 kph), according to Tropical Storm
Risk Web typhoon tracker, http://tsr.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/.

The storm had dropped to a category two after the eye
crossed the coast, down from category four, with five being the
strongest.

Authorities in Shanghai, China’s financial center north of
Zhejiang, had issued the yellow warning signal, demanding that
more than 100,000 people working outdoors or living in sheds
and other temporary housing evacuate to safety.

“Heavy rainstorms will strike Shanghai Sunday and Monday,
Xinhua said.

Thirteen flights between Hong Kong and three eastern
Chinese cities had been canceled or delayed because of the
storm on Sunday.

Dragonair Airways said it has decided to cancel six flights
between Hong Kong and Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo. China
Eastern Airlines said it had delayed seven flights from Hong
Kong to eastern China.

Typhoon Matsa swept up China’s east coast at the beginning
of August, killing three people and forcing more than a million
to flee their homes.

At the beginning of this month, Typhoon Talim killed up to
56 people in eastern China after unleashing torrential rains
and triggering floods and landslides.

Typhoons, known as hurricanes in the West, gather strength
from warm sea water and tend to dissipate after making
landfall.

They frequently hit Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Hong
Kong and southern China during a season that lasts from early
summer to late autumn.

(Additional reporting by Lao Li)




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