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September 1, 2010

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Wet and windy: We'll feel impact of typhoon

Typhoon Kompasu is unlikely to hit Shanghai but will probably make its impact felt on the city today with severe rain and gales, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said yesterday.

Classes are suspended today in Shanghai's schools and kindergartens - delaying the start of the new school year. International and vocational schools and construction sites also have called off work out of concern for safety.

With a speed of 30 kilometers per hour, Kompasu arrived in the south of the East China Sea at 8pm yesterday, and was expected to come closest to Shanghai at noon today. The storm's effects should intensify this morning and peak in the afternoon, according to Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

Torrential rain is likely to sweep across the city with heavy winds, the bureau said.

The wind speed in urban areas and the Expo site could reach 49 to 74 kilometers per hour and could even rise to 102 to 133 kilometers per hour in the city's coastal areas, the bureau said.

Weather, flood-control and other authorities were working together last night to prepare the city for the expected winds and rain.

"It could be intensified as a severe typhoon," said Dai Jianhua, a chief weatherman of the bureau. "But it is likely to go northeast and should not make a landfall in the city."

The bureau issued a blue typhoon alert, lightest of the four-level system, at 5pm yesterday.

About 300 workers of the Pinghu Oilfield on the East China Sea were evacuated, with the last group back on shore yesterday afternoon, authorities said.

Li Kaixi, a Sinopec official, said that the last batch of workers, nearly 90 people, left the oilfield on Monday by ship and arrived in the Pudong New Area after a 25-hour voyage.

Ships near the city's ports were all asked to anchor by yesterday.

The Expo bureau said it was monitoring for potential floods and all pumps had been prepared to handle the coming storm.

Shanghai airport authority urged passengers to pay more attention to their flights today, saying it is likely that cyclone would affect the airports in Shanghai and Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

Students notified

Local school officials and teachers worked last night to notify parents of the school closures.

At Shanghai Liying Primary School, Principal Sun Youli called all the teachers, asking them to inform every student of the suspension. "Teachers had the cell phone numbers of every student's parents," Sun said.

Sun, a teacher since 1964, said this is the first time school has been suspended on the first day of the new semester.

Despite there being no classes, teachers still need to work today in case some parents failed to hear that classes were called off. "If parents can't take their children home, we will arrange some indoor activities for them," Sun said.

Yesterday, a thunderstorm connected to Namtheum, a much weaker tropical storm, hit the city's Hongqiao airport at about 11am, forcing at least 20 flights to land instead at Pudong International Airport and at airports in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, and Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, authorities said.

Local travel service companies said they'll cancel the tour groups to typhoon-hit travel resorts if necessary.

In another development, the eye of tropical storm Lion Rock yesterday reached the northeast part of the South China Sea, spawning heavy rain in the nearby Guangdong Province. The storm won't affect Shanghai, weathermen said.

Also yesterday, at least 246 tourists remained stranded on an island in Zhejiang Province as the typhoon and tropical storms cut off ship-ferrying services on Monday, local authorities said.

The tourists, including six Russians and 26 students, had to stay in hotels in Nanji Island, a popular tourist destination in Zhejiang's Wenzhou City, after local transport authorities suspended the ship services due to strong gales.

Floods and landslides have left 3,185 people dead and more than 1,060 missing in China this year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday.

About 230 million Chinese had been affected. Nearly 15.2 million people had been forced to flee their homes.


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