September 19, 2007 in Nation/World

Millions of Chinese evacuated for typhoon

Elaine Kurtenbach Associated Press

SHANGHAI, China – Typhoon Wipha slammed into the coast south of Shanghai early today, flooding streets and disrupting transport as authorities ordered 2 million people evacuated. One man was electrocuted.

But Wipha was fast losing power and appeared unlikely to live up to forecasts that it could be the most powerful storm to hit eastern China in a decade.

By this morning, the Meteorological Bureau in Zhejiang province, where Wipha made landfall, reported that it was downgraded to a severe tropical storm when its sustained wind speeds dropped below 74 mph.

However, the storm was expected to pass Shanghai, China’s biggest city, later in the day and still carried the potential to cause significant damage through flooding and strong winds.

Shanghai closed schools, delayed or postponed dozens of flights and ferry crossings and other transport links amid warnings of torrential rains and strong winds.

Earlier, the storm, packing sustained winds of 100 mph, made landfall near Cangnan in southern Zhejiang province, some 240 miles south of Shanghai, state media reported.

State television showed streets flooded knee-deep in several regional cities.

Authorities ordered 2 million people evacuated from ships and coastal regions and from housing judged to be unsafe.

In Shanghai, a man was electrocuted when he stepped in a puddle electrified by a light box in the northern part of the city, the Shanghai Daily and other state-run newspapers said.

On Tuesday, one worker was reported killed and another seriously injured as the fringe of the typhoon lashed Taiwan, knocking down scaffolding at a highway construction site in Taipei, Taiwan’s Disaster Relief Center reported.

Organizers of the women’s World Cup rescheduled today’s Shanghai match between Norway and Ghana to Thursday and moved it to the neighboring city of Hangzhou.

A game in Hangzhou between Brazil and Denmark was moved to Thursday.

Shanghai and the coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian to the south issued typhoon warnings requiring all vessels to return to shore or change course to avoid the storm. Numerous flights out of Shanghai and other regional airports were canceled.

Wipha, a woman’s name in Thai, was upgraded from a tropical storm Monday.

With wind gusts of up to 165 mph, local meteorological officials had said it would be the most destructive storm to hit the Shanghai area in years if it followed a course northward that would take it just west of the city.

© Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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