Typhoon forces widespread evacuation

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A girl and her grandmother move to a school in Jinwei, a village in the suburb of Shanghai, to fi nd shelter from Typhoon Haikui on Tuesday. [Photo/China Daily]

China evacuated 374,000 people from Shanghai and 250,000 from Zhejiang as the third typhoon in a week bore down on the eastern coast.

Haikui strengthened into a severe typhoon on Tuesday as it approached the coast of East China’s Zhejiang province, the provincial meteorological observatory said.

The typhoon was moving northwest at 10 to 15 km per hour and is expected to make landfall in coastal areas in central or northern Zhejiang between early morning and noon on Wednesday, lashing the province and Shanghai with torrential rains.

The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau raised the typhoon alarm to orange, the second-highest level, at 3 pm on Tuesday. Forecasters predicted winds would reach speeds up to 115 km per hour near the city’s coast.

The meteorological department in Zhejiang raised the typhoon alarm to red, the highest level, on Tuesday afternoon.

Sitting in her wheelchair, 83-year-old Zhou Lijun from Shanghai’s Jinshan district didn’t seem worried. “This isn’t the first time I have relocated to avoid a storm. We spent the night at a nearby school when a typhoon hit Jinshan last year as well,” Zhou said, adding the house where she lives is “in a state of disrepair”.

“The whole process isn’t too complicated. My husband and I just packed a few bags with some necessary items, such as my medicine and a blanket,” Zhou said.

Food and drinking water are available at a nearby vocational school, said Zhu Qinfang, a staff member from the neighborhood committee organizing the relocation.

“Apart from making arrangements for those who are old, weak, ill or disabled, our toughest task is to inform the migrants who won’t be home until late in the day. The only solution will be to send staff to wait so that nobody is left behind.”

Around 22,000 of the 27,690 people who were forced to evacuate from Jinshan district work at construction sites.

In Zhejiang’s Zhoushan, a city made up entirely of islands, all water traffic and tourist attractions had been closed by Tuesday. The city also relocated more than 56,000 people from the low-lying areas.

The 35.7-km Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which connects Zhejiang’s Jiaxing and Ningbo, was also closed on Tuesday afternoon.

The municipal government of Shanghai issued an emergency notice on Tuesday afternoon, suspending all outdoor group activities from 9 pm on Tuesday until the orange alarm is lifted.

All parks, scenic spots and amusement grounds will remain closed, and all training classes for students during the summer break were canceled. Laborers were asked to stop working on outdoor projects, while organizations and companies unrelated to people’s livelihood and city operation are allowed to take vacations. Employees who don’t come to work or arrive late should not be held responsible, the government said.

Shanghai municipal traffic department was preparing to shut down expressways and elevated roads on Tuesday afternoon for fear of low visibility caused by possible torrential rains.

Air carriers including China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines decided on Tuesday morning to cancel flights to and from Hangzhou, Ningbo and Wenzhou cities in Zhejiang and Shanghai later in the day.

Apart from emergency tasks, all vessels of Shanghai have been ordered to stay in harbor or seek shelter at designated areas.

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