China evacuates 500,000 as typhoon approaches
Typhoon Fung Wong (Phoenix), which lashed Taiwan on Monday morning, continued to strengthen as it headed toward China's east coast, and was expected to make landfall near Xiamen City before midnight, the official Xinhua news agency said Monday.
The storm was moving in a north-westerly direction Monday morning at wind speeds of 151 kilometres per hour at its centre, Xinhua cited the weather observatory in south-eastern Fujian province, where Xiamen is located, as saying, reported dpa.
Fujian authorities have evacuated 274,300 people and called back about 52,300 fishing boats as of Sunday evening, according to Xinhua.
Hundreds of air passengers were stranded after the main airport in Fuzhou, the provincial capital, cancelled 49 and delayed others.
The neighbouring Zhejiang province also evacuated 230,764 people and called to port 26,242 fishing boats on Monday, the agency said.
Fung Wong is the eighth tropical storm to hit China's coast and the strongest so far this year.
It is expected to pummel China's eastern and southern regions with heavy rain and strong winds, making landfall in Fujian's Xiapu and Jinjiang counties around midnight Monday.
Several provinces, including Fujian, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangxi, have issued orange alerts, the agency said.
The telecoms authority in Fujian has sent more than 20 million text messages to mobile phone users to alert them to the approaching typhoon.
China's capital Beijing, which is making final preparations to host the 2008 Olympic Games from August 8-24, is not affected by typhoons.
In Taiwan, the typhoon forced schools and offices to close across the island, while causing power outages and flooding. Air and rail travel were cancelled or disrupted.