Typhoon Wipha Pummels Southeast China As Officials Evacuate Coastal Areas
SHANGHAI, China – Typhoon Wipha slammed into the coast south of Shanghai early Wednesday as authorities moved 2 million people following forecasts it would be the most powerful storm to hit eastern China in a decade.
Shanghai closed schools, delayed or postponed dozens of flights and ferry crossings and other transport links amid warnings of torrential rains and strong winds.
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 in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Fujian province ordered 2 million people evacuated from ships and coastal regions and from housing judged to be unsafe.
The storm, with winds gusting to 145 mph, was losing force as it moved north along the coast and was expected to pass over Shanghai later Wednesday, local weather reports said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage caused by the storm on mainland China.
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 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.
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 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.
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.