Half a million evacuated as typhoon nears
Updated: 2006-08-10 10:35 BEIJING - A powerful typhoon,
gathering strength all the time, was heading directly for east China on Thursday
and was expected to hit within hours, forcing the evacuation of nearly half a
Typhoon Saomai, one of thee storms to have threatened in the last few days
and which has already dumped heavy rain on Taiwan, was expected to make landfall
about midway between Hong Kong and Shanghai, just south of the booming city of
The province of Zhejiang had already evacuated 167,000 people and the
neighbouring province of Fujian had evacuated 266,000, Xinhua news agency said,
as heavy rain, strong winds and a high tide began to hit the area.
There were no immediate reports of airports closing.
Fujian authorities warned local people to prepare for Saomai, which developed
from a tropical storm into a violent typhoon on Wednesday evening, gathering its
power from the warm South China Sea.
"Some meteorologists said that the typhoon might grow stronger," Xinhua said.
Much of south China has been repeately battered by typhoons and tropical
storms this year, with hundreds of people killed by rainstorms, mudslides and
Tropical storm Bilis killed more than 600 last month and Typhoon Prapiroon
killed about 80 last week.
A tropical storm fizzled to the south of Taiwan this week and another veered
towards the east of Japan.
Typhoons and tropical storms are
common during a season that lasts from early summer to late autumn. They
gather strength over the warm water and tend to weaken once they make