China braces as typhoon threatens Shanghai

Dark clouds cover the sky in downtown Shanghai, August 6, 2012.

SHANGHAI - China rushed to evacuate more than 400,000 people on Tuesday as the most powerful typhoon since 2005 threatened the commercial hub of Shanghai, the government and state media said.

Typhoon Haikui was expected to make landfall in Zhejiang province, just south of Shanghai, late Tuesday or early Wednesday, the China Meteorological Administration said.

Shanghai officials fear the storm could be the worst since 2005, when Typhoon Matsa killed seven people in the city, state media said.

The city aimed to move 200,000 people to more than a hundred shelters by Tuesday evening, government officials were quoted as saying.

The Shanghai government ordered outdoor construction sites shut down and cancelled summer classes for children until the typhoon had eased.

Authorities in Zhejiang were also rushing to get people out the path of the storm, with 256,000 residents of the province evacuated so far, state media said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the typhoon was about 270 kilometres (170 miles) southeast of Zhejiang and was forecast to land between the cities of Ningbo and Wenzhou, the China Meteorological Administration said.

The typhoon was packing winds of up to 151 kilometres per hour and could bring up to 400 millimetres (16 inches) of rain to some areas, it said. The eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Anhui would also be affected.

Shanghai had halted rail ticket sales for some coastal lines which might be affected by the typhoon, state media said, while Zhejiang had called more than 30,000 ships back to port.

The typhoon is the third to hit China in a week, after two battered other parts of the country over the weekend, killing 23 people, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Typhoon Saola left 14 dead in the central province of Hubei while nine people were killed in the northeastern province of Liaoning after Typhoon Damrey struck, it said.

China is hit annually by typhoons in the summer, which normally affect its eastern and southern regions.

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