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China braces for 2 typhoons

Updated: 2012-08-02 02:15
By Jin Zhu in Beijing and Shi Yingying in Shanghai ( China Daily)

China braces for 2 typhoons
East China's coastal regions have begun emergency preparations as two typhoons approached the country on Wednesday.

The center of typhoon Saola, the ninth typhoon this year, was about 210 km southeast of Hualien, Taiwan, at 1 pm on Wednesday, the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center said.

Typhoon Saola would make landfall over Taiwan's coast or the northeastern waters of the island on Wednesday night or this morning, the center said.

Heavy rains and strong winds from Saola are forecast to hit coastal areas in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces on Thursday night or Friday morning, it said.

The center of the 10th typhoon, Damrey, was about 1,230 km southeast of Rizhao city in East China's Shandong province at 1 pm on Wednesday. The typhoon may land on coastal regions in Jiangsu and Shandong provinces on Thursday night or Friday morning, according to the center.

Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday urged local governments to closely monitor the typhoons and their effect on major rivers, and publicize relevant information in a timely manner.

Wen made the remarks in Zhengzhou, Henan province, during his inspection of efforts to prevent flooding in the Yellow River, according to Xinhua News Agency.

"Ensuring people's safety should be prioritized," he said, adding that local authorities should intensify efforts to guard residential areas, schools, factories, mines, railways, highways, and tourism spots from floods.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Tuesday that the upcoming two typhoons are very likely to move further inland after landing on the coastal regions.

Strong winds and heavy rains from the typhoons may cover more than 10 provinces in the days ahead, and that would test the country's flood-control capabilities, it said.

On Wednesday, Taiwan issued torrential-rain and strong-wind warnings for most of the island in preparation for Saola after it passed through the Philippines, leaving at least 14 people dead.

Heavy rain fell in Taipei on Wednesday, where authorities were expected to decide whether to order businesses and financial markets to close, Reuters reported.

The Maritime Safety Administration of Fujian province issued a maritime alert on Monday, updating the typhoon information via VHF communication radio and short-message services to warn boats.

The Fujian provincial department of ocean and fisheries said on Wednesday that more than 41,000 fishing boats had been ordered to return to port. It said 8,094 people have been relocated as the typhoon approaches.

On Tuesday, flights between Xiamen and Jinmen, and Quanzhou and Jinmen, have been canceled because of Saola.

The operation of the passenger liners Haixia, which links Fujian province's Pingtan county and Taiwan's Taichung city, and Cosco Star, which travels between Xiamen and Keelong, were also suspended for safety concerns.

In Shanghai, emergency preparation is in place. "It's quite rare that Shanghai will be influenced by two typhoons (Saola and Damrey) at the same time," said Zhang Zhenyu, a spokesman for the city's flood prevention department.

He added that the government of Shanghai is speeding up improvement to the city's drainage system, and that special attention has been paid to the underground metro.

"Every entrance of metro station has been blocked up for a few steps, and we've prepared boards made by aluminum alloy (for further blocking up) and extra drainage pumps just in case," Zhang said.

Feng Hao, spokesman for Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Co, said speed restrictions would be applied to Shanghai's metros if the average speed of the wind reaches 17.2 meters per second or above. "Metro stations may be even temporarily shut down if necessary," he said.

Wind meters were installed for the first time at some of the metro's Line 2 stations, Feng said. The wind-meter readings go directly to the station control room, he added.

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Sun Li in Fuzhou and Cang Wei in Nanjing contributed to this story.