Strong typhoon approaching, 730,000 evacuated

Updated: 2007-10-06 20:44

Police officers try to persuade tourists to leave the beach and move to safe places in Linhai, Zhejiang Province as strong typhoon Krosa approaches the mainland on October 6, 2007. [Xinhua]

HANGZHOU -- Strong typhoon "Krosa", the 16th this year, is approaching the Chinese mainland after slamming into Taiwan on Saturday.

By Saturday evening, the two provinces, Zhejiang and Fujian, have evacuated more than 730,000 people ahead of the buffeting of the powerful typhoon. By 6:00 p.m. Saturday, Zhejiang has evacuated more than 500,000 people and recalled 32,193 vessels. By 7:00 p.m., the neighboring Fujian province has displaced about 230,000 people and recalled 36,851 vessels to the harbor.

"Krosa" coincides with the ongoing seven-day National Day holiday from October1 to 7 while flocks of tourists are visiting seaside resorts or the surrounding islands in Zhejiang and Fujian.

All tours had been called off in the coastal areas on Friday and police distributed notices in docks and scenic sites to remind tourists to prepare themselves for "Krosa".

As of 4 p.m. on Saturday, Krosa was centered at sea about 420 km off Wenling, southwestern Zhejiang with sustained winds of 180 kph, the Zhejiang meteorological observatory said. Its radius is 450 kilometers.

The typhoon has lashed Taiwan, cutting off power supplies and halting highway and air traffic. Taiwan media reports show several people injured by tiles, damaged billboard and in a bus accident. Grocery prices on the island hiked 23 percent within one day.

Krosa is heading northwestward at a speed of 20 to 25 km per hour, and will probably make landfall between Wenling of Zhejiang and Ningde of Fujian on Sunday before heading north, the Zhejiang observatory said.

The powerful typhoon has unleashed heavy rainfalls in Zhejiang, feeding rivers near the coast to reach warning marks. The Zhejiang marine monitoring and forecasting center issued a top warning for storm tide, forecasting waves up to 12 meters high along the coast in the next 24 hours.

In Taizhou city of Zhejiang, more than 150,000 tourists had been cleared from tourist sites by Saturday afternoon. Local government are distributing a daily subsidy of 30 yuan per person to about 130 tourists who are stranded on the Dachen islands, a scenic area in Taizhou.

In Shanghai, which is hosting the Special Olympics, the local government has called back all flood prevention workers from their national holidays and is drafting emergency plans for the drainage of the competition venues to ensure the sports event continues smoothly.

Zhang Jiayi, deputy chief of the city's flood prevention headquarters, said they had notified all people working on construction sites, living in unsafe houses and along the coastal areas to prepare to evacuate, but decisions to evacuate and close schools will be announced on Sunday depending on the trajectory of the typhoon and its impact on Shanghai.

Both Taiwan and Hong Kong airlines canceled flights between the two destinations. Cathay Pacific Airways, a major carrier in Hong Kong, announced cancellation of all flights to and from Taiwan from Saturday to 2:00 p.m. Sunday.

An increasing number of passengers, including more than 100 Hong Kong students, are finding themselves stranded at Hong Kong's international airport.

Ship services between Fuzhou, capital of Fujian, and Mawei in Taiwan were also halted on Saturday.

The Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters of China issued a "Level Two" flood control emergency response plan Saturday morning demanding related provinces and cities to closely monitor the typhoon and be well prepared for any emergencies.

Experts with the Zhejiang provincial meteorological station said the number of typhoons in October will be small but the damage could be huge.

During the National Day holiday in 2005, typhoon "Longwang" ravaged east China, triggering flash floods and a landslide, which destroyed barracks with cadets inside, killing 85.

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