Wipha Weakens to Tropical Storm After Lashing Eastern China

Typhoon Wipha flooded streets and prompted mass evacuations as it swept through eastern China on Wednesday, but the storm eventually weakened and caused little damage in the financial center of Shanghai. One man was electrocuted.

Wipha, which appeared unlikely to fulfill predictions that it could be the most powerful storm to hit eastern China in a decade, was downgraded to a tropical storm after it tore into the coast south of the city before dawn.

By mid-afternoon, it was traveling northward to the west of the city.

Authorities in Shanghai and nearby provinces evacuated some 2 million people, mostly from coastal regions, boats and unsafe housing. One Shanghai man was electrocuted when he stepped in a puddle electrified by a light box in the northern part of the city, local media reported.

Shanghai, a city of 20 million, closed schools, ferries and other transport links following forecasts of torrential rains and strong winds.

The Meteorological Bureau in Zhejiang province reported that Wipha was downgraded to a tropical storm early Wednesday after it made landfall and its sustained wind speeds dropped below 74 mph.

State television showed flooded streets, fields and homes. Wind gusts knocked down trees as the storm hit land near Cangnan in southern Zhejiang province, some 250 miles south of Shanghai.

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.

Dozens of flights through Shanghai's two airports were canceled or delayed.

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

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

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.

The deadliest storm to hit the China coast in recent years was Typhoon Winnie in 1997, which killed 236 people. Typhoon Rananim, with winds of more than 100 mph, was the strongest typhoon to hit the Chinese mainland since 1956, killing nearly 200 people.