Officials in China’s eastern Zhejiang province have ordered ships to return to port and evacuated tourists on nearby islands as a huge storm heads towards the coast.
Shanghai, the country’s biggest port, was also preparing to suspend operations at Yanghsan terminal on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, officials from the Shanghai International Shipping Institute said.
Typhoon Muifa intensified into one of the strongest typhoons this year on Tuesday – with wind speeds estimated at over 200kmh – and is expected to cross the coast between Wenling and Zhoushan overnight, state media reported.
Forecasters said Muifa was barrelling towards the twin port cities of Ningbo and Zhoushan, which share the second-busiest port in China by cargo handled.
It will bring torrential rains as it sweeps through eastern and southern coastal areas, including commercial hub Shanghai which is just north of Ningbo and Zhoushan, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Waves of up to 5 metres (16 feet) are expected near Shanghai, China’s busiest container seaport.
State television reported about 13,000 people from islands and tourist sites near Zhoushan have been evacuated.
China Southern Airlines said it has cancelled 25 flights at Shanghai airports on Tuesday and plans to cancel 11 more on Wednesday.
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.
All flights at the airports in Ningbo and Zhoushan have been cancelled for Wednesday, flight data platform Variflight said.
The Central Meteorological Administration (CMA) said Muifa’s centre was around 490 km (304.5 miles) southeast of Xiangshan city in Zhejiang.
The typhoon, China’s 12th cyclone of the year, will continue to move in a northwest direction after making landfall, and then gradually weaken, CMA said.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
NOTE: Further details were added to this report on September 13, 2022.