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August 7, 2012

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200,000 relocated as typhoon nears Shanghai

SHANGHAI is expected to have serious downpours and gales between tonight and Thursday as typhoon Haikui approaches, authorities warned.

The city has also relocated over 200,000 people to avoid risks, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

Haikui, upgraded to a typhoon yesterday, was 580 kilometers southeast of Shanghai by 3pm yesterday and moving toward the coastline of the city's neighboring Zhejiang Province at 15 kilometers per hour, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.

Haikui is most likely to land between Wenzhou and Zhoushan in north Zhejiang between midnight and tomorrow at noon. Shanghai should be within a 380-kilometer radius of the storm, the bureau said.

"There's still some uncertainty of its route, and because it's not symmetrically structured, it's hard to estimate its influence on the city," said Yao Jianqun, deputy director of the Shanghai Central Observatory of the bureau.

But Yao warned that the typhoon could also strengthen before it hit China's coastline as it slowed its forward speed, which "favors it gaining power."

Haikui is likely to add to the precipitation brought by two previous typhoons, Damrey and Saola, which leave 23 dead, 9 missing after made landfall in eastern China last Friday.

The typhoon is expected to dump up to 700 millimeters of rain along coastal areas. In Shanghai, the total precipitation between today and Thursday is estimated to surpass 200 millimeters, according to Tang Xu, director of the bureau.

Today is forecast to be overcast to showery, with conditions deteriorating tonight. The rain should become strong tomorrow, when influence of Haikui should reach its peak.

The maximum temperature is expected to stay below 30 degrees Celsius in the next three days, the bureau said.

The bureau issued a blue typhoon alert at 2pm yesterday, the lowest of a four-color warning system, meaning gale-force winds reaching up to 74 kilometers per hour will hit the city.

"Shanghai has escaped dozens of typhoons in recent years and this one is likely to be the first real challenge since 2005," warned Vice Mayor Shen Jun. "Every effort should be made to minimize the potential influence."

Authorities have ordered all outdoor elevators to stop operation and workers in the city's coastal areas should be evacuated by 9pm today, said Zhang Jiayi, director of Shanghai Water Authority.

Beaches in Jinshan and Fengxian have been closed since last Thursday. The flood control system of the city's tunnels has been on standby, Zhang added.

At least 205 ships around the city's Yangshan Deep Water Port were asked to return to harbor yesterday.

The Shanghai railway operator said yesterday it had stopped selling train tickets along coastal tracks for tomorrow.

The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center predicted that 6 to 9-meter-high waves will occur in the East China Sea today.

Waves of 3.5 meters to 5 meters will occur along the east coast of Zhejiang, and waves of 2 to 3 meters will emerge near the coast of Shanghai, southern Jiangsu and northern Fujian, the center said.


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