Mon, Aug 08, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Flights canceled, Shanghai escapes Muifa’s wrath

TEMPERAMENTAL TYPHOON:The storm changed course at sea, and Jiangsu and Shandong provinces began bracing for the storm by evacuating tens of thousands

AFP, SHANGHAI

A billow hits the seacoast, in downtown Qingdao, China, yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

Shanghai’s airports canceled or delayed dozens of flights yesterday as authorities braced for Typhoon Muifa, but the storm bypassed China’s commercial capital and headed further north.

More than 500,000 people were evacuated as the powerful typhoon was previously forecast to hit the eastern coast near Shanghai starting on Saturday, but Muifa changed course while at sea, packing winds of 178kph, the national meteorological center said yesterday.

The temperamental storm — which has already changed speed and direction several times — is now due to make landfall in -Shandong Province near Qingdao this morning, the center said, although it is weakening.

Authorities had initially expressed concern that Muifa might wreak havoc similar to the destruction unleashed by Typhoon Saomai in 2006 — the worst to hit the nation in 50 years — which killed at least 450 people.

Still, the two airports in Shanghai halted many flights yesterday morning, following the cancellation of more than 200 flights the previous day, which affected about 30,000 passengers. Some resumed in the afternoon as the storm passed and planes were able to take off and land again, a local media report said.

The typhoon — which had originally been forecast to be Shanghai’s worst since 2005 — brought strong winds and rain to the metropolis yesterday.

At least one person went missing in Zhejiang Province when a boat sank, Xinhua news agency reported, but there were no reports of major road blockages or downed trees in Shanghai.

The eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong were bracing for the impact of the storm, evacuating tens of thousands of people and ordering boats back to shore, media reports said.

The local weather bureau in Shandong said the typhoon might weaken to a tropical storm when it makes landfall, but authorities had still ordered around 20,000 fishing boats to go back to harbor, Xinhua said.

The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center has warned that the typhoon could affect an even wider area than initially predicted if it continues to hug the eastern coast and makes landfall further north.

“In this case, Muifa would affect the whole eastern and northern sea area,” it said.

Meanwhile, South Korean authorities issued a tidal wave and flood warning along the country’s west and south coast and urged steps to prevent possible flooding. They also warned of strong winds overnight that could possibly damage trees, traffic lights and street signs in central parts of the country, including Seoul.

Many domestic flights, including between Seoul and the southern island of Jeju, were canceled, according to Yonhap news agency. More than 20,000 Jeju homes suffered blackouts of up to an hour yesterday.

Additional reporting by AP

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