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August 9, 2009

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East China braces for Morakot's fury

EAST China is bracing for typhoon Morakot's approach after it slammed into Taiwan on Friday night leaving six people dead or missing.

Fujian Province's meteorological station said Morakot was likely to make landfall on the coastal Chinese province early this morning.

Although the typhoon is expected to weaken to a tropical storm before it arrives on the Chinese mainland, it was packing winds of 137 kilometers an hour at 7am yesterday and churning northwestwards at a speed of 15 to 20 kilometers an hour.

It has already unleashed torrential rain in Fujian where, at five sites, water levels have been recorded at 0.02 to 0.66 meters above warning levels.

In Luoyuan County of Fuzhou City, Fujian's capital, people stayed at home yesterday and roads were almost empty. Fewer sellers appeared in the county's vegetable market.

"The fields were flooded," said Li Sailian, a vegetable seller. "Strong winds broke the ropes tying down horsebeans, and the crown daisies (chrysanthemum greens) were destroyed," she said.

Li brought all her available stock to the market, fearing the storm would destroy it completely.

In downtown Fuzhou, where several big trees have already been toppled by gale-force winds, people were rushing to supermarkets for necessities before the typhoon arrived.

All flights scheduled to depart after midday from the airport in Fuzhou were canceled, leaving more than 120 passengers stranded. Airport staff were helping with refunds.

In adjacent Zhejiang Province, rainfall exceeded 50 millimeters on 6.8 percent of the province's area on Friday night. The highest reading was 110 millimeters in Cangnan County bordering Fujian.

An expressway from Wenzhou of Zhejiang Province to Fujian was closed for 12 kilometers, while another from Hangzhou to Anhui Province was cut by landslides. Power supply to 80 villages was also cut.

Nearly 300,000 residents and tourists in danger areas were evacuated, and the province has recalled nearly 30,000 ships back to harbor. More than 50,000 soldiers were put on alert for emergencies in Zhejiang, the local government said.


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