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East China Braces for Typhoon Saomai
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This year's latest typhoon is expected to blow into east China this afternoon or tomorrow morning.


The Central Meteorological Observatory (CMO) yesterday predicted Typhoon Saomai will make landfall in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.


Saomai comes hot on the heels of Typhoon Prapiroon, which killed around 80 people in south China last week.


And as the typhoon nears, a weaker storm, Bopha, is closing in on the Guangdong coast.


"Saomai will affect regions south of the Yangtze River and coastal areas in Fujian Province," said CMO meteorologist Xu Yinglong.


The typhoon is expected to wreak further havoc as it moves northwest after landing, but Xu said the damage will not be as severe as the destruction wreaked by Typhoon Bilis, which caused hundreds of deaths in southern China last month.


Considering the distance between Saomai and Bopha, interaction between the two storms will not be as "mighty," meteorologists said.


Saomai, the eighth tropical storm to close in on China this year, was about 840 kilometers southeast of Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province yesterday.


Local authorities in Zhejiang began evacuating residents as a combination of heavy rain, gusty winds and a high tide, all caused by Saomai, began assaulting the area.


Residents in mountainous areas around Wenzhou, Taizhou, Ningbo and Lishui were advised to beware of possible landslides, mud-rock flows, floods and other disasters, while schools were ordered to prepare for the storm.


Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu has urged meteorological observatories to keep a keen eye on the typhoon.


Gathering strength, Saomai was moving in a northwest-west direction between 25 and 30 kph, and expected to enter the East China Sea either last night or this morning.


It is expected to come ashore between noon and early this evening at the coastal areas between Wenling in Zhejiang and Changle in Fujian.


Due to the typhoon's influence, Zhejiang is likely to experience a combination of heavy rain, strong winds and high tides.


The Office of Flood and Drought Relief in Zhejiang has ordered all ships to return to harbor and warned sea-based businesses to prepare for potential losses.


In Taizhou, more than 7,000 fishing boats have sought shelter, an official with the city's anti-flood department said yesterday. In Ningbo, the number stood at more than 10,000.


"We have issued documents ordering all of those dwelling behind unsecured seawalls to be evacuated," said an official, surnamed Xu, from Ningbo's anti-flood department.


(China Daily August 10, 2006)

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