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20,000 evacuated in SE China as Morakot nears
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Authorities in southeast China's Fujian Province have ordered all schools and scenic spots to close before 4 p.m. Friday, as typhoon Morakot nears.

Members of local police help fishermen evacuate to the shore in Fuzhou, capital of southeast China's Fujian Province, on Aug. 6, 2009. The eye of Typhoon Morakot was located at 840 kilometers east of Fuzhou City as of 11 a.m. Thursday.
Members of local police help fishermen evacuate to the shore in Fuzhou, capital of southeast China's Fujian Province, on Aug. 6, 2009. The eye of Typhoon Morakot was located at 840 kilometers east of Fuzhou City as of 11 a.m. Thursday. The Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters expected Morakot to strengthen into a strong typhoon and to make landfall from Saturday noon to Sunday morning. The national flood control administration announced the III level emergency alert and called for full preparations for the strong typhoon Morakot. [Jiang Kehong/Xinhua]

The provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said Friday that about 34,000 vessels had been recalled to port and 21,190 people in the cities of Ningde, Putian, Fuzhou and Quanzhou had been relocated to safe areas.

The headquarters has entrusted the education bureau to notify schools in the four cities to stop all activities, and make sure all teachers and students leave safely.

Waves as high as six meters were already hitting the coastal area on Friday, and the provincial meteorological observatory said they could reach up to nine meters as the typhoon came closer.

According to China's Central Meteorological Station, Morakot, the eighth typhoon to affect China's mainland, was 180 km southeast of Keelung, Taiwan, as of 10 a.m. Friday, packing winds up to 144 km per hour in the center.

It is moving at 15 km per hour northwestward, and is expected to hit Taiwan Friday evening, and make another landfall in northern Fujian and central Zhejiang sometime from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning.

Dong Rong, deputy director of the Fujian observatory, said, Morakot would be the strongest typhoon to land in China's mainland this year.

The provincial government has sent 8.4 million text messages to mobile phone users, warning people of its approach.

The observatory forecast the typhoon would make a landfall in northern and central Fujian on Saturday and bring heavy rain and strong gales to coastal regions.

According to the Taiwan weather department, Morakot was slowing, but remained a strong typhoon, indicating both its impact and the duration would increase.

Schools in almost all cities and counties on the island and the Taipei stock market closed Friday. Most domestic and some international flights, mostly to Hong Kong, had been canceled.

The local authorities said train services would be suspended or reduced by Friday noon.

Two of the mainland's three direct shipping links with Taiwan were closed Friday morning, leaving only the link between Xiamen City, in Fujian, and Jinmen, in Taiwan, still in service.

Workers building the world's highest power transmission tower on Damaoshan Island in east China's Zhejiang Province stopped work Friday, and took shelter.

"The company has prepared food and water enough for the workers for four days," said Peng Lixin, the project manager.

He told Xinhua that the building of the 370-meter tower had entered the final stage. Typhoon Morakot would test the construction.

The island has no fresh water supply.

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