Hundreds of flights out of Shanghai – China’s financial hub – were cancelled on Wednesday as Typhoon Muifa gathered strength in the East China Sea.
The storm, which was moving in a northwesterly direction adjacent to the coast, was threatening the port shared by Ningbo and Zhoushan cities, morning reports said.
Zhejiang province upgraded its typhoon emergency response to the highest level as Muifa moved northwest at a speed of 20-25 kmh (12-15 mph).
It is expected to intensify and eventually reach coastal areas south of Zhoushan, the China Meteorological Administration said.
Muifa – the 12th cyclone of the year for China with wind gusts of close to 200kmh – was expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon or night, forecasters said. Shanghai issued an advisory warning for wind gusts and heavy rains are expected until Thursday.
More than 50% of flights will be reduced or cancelled at Shanghai Pudong Airport and Hongqiao Airport on Wednesday with 589 flights already affected, state media said.
Flights at Zhoushan and Ningbo airports were also cancelled.
Zhejiang authorities issued a “red warning” for flash floods in several areas and the national weather forecaster said there was a high risk of flooding of small and medium-sized rivers in northeast Zhejiang and waterlogging in eastern and northern Zhejiang, Shanghai, southern areas of Jiangsu and other places.
7,400 Ships Seek Shelter
Nearly 7,400 commercial vessels sought shelter in ports in Zhejiang, including Zhoushan, Ningbo and Taizhou, while passenger ship routes across the province were suspended as of noon, state media reported.
The Zhejiang government ordered all fishing vessels to return to dock before noon.
Ningbo, Zhoushan and Taizhou ordered schools to be suspended for Wednesday. Those three cities and Shanghai have a collective population of 42.26 million.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard