|A fishing vessel returns to Chongchan port to shelter from typhoon Muifa in Xiangshan County, east China's Zhejiang Province, Aug. 5, 2011. Powerful typhoon Muifa is likely to make landfall over east China's Zhejiang Province on Saturday night or in the daytime of Sunday, local meteorological authorities said Friday. (Xinhua/Ju Huanzong)
HANGZHOU, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- More than 206,000 residents in the coastal areas of east China's Zhejiang Province have been evacuated as it braced for the strongest typhoon in years.
Typhoon Muifa will likely make landfall in Zhejiang Saturday night or during the day on Sunday, local meteorological authorities said Friday.
Muifa, the ninth typhoon to hit China this year, was located about 660 km southeast of Zhejiang's city of Zhoushan at 5 p.m. Friday, according to the Zhejiang Provincial Meteorological Station.
Packing winds of up to 162 km per hour near its center, Muifa is heading northwest at a speed of 10 km to 15 km per hour, the station said.
The storm will bring strong winds and torrential rains to parts of Zhejiang, it said.
Zhao Hongzhu, chief of the Zhejiang provincial committee of the Communist Party of China, has ordered checking all low-lying and other dangerous places to make sure every one has been relocated.
Lu Zushan, governor of Zhejiang, ordered stepping up safety precautions for the Qinshan nuclear power plant and local chemical companies.
To brace for the forthcoming typhoon, several coastal cities in Zhejiang also have temporarily closed tourist destinations and evacuated tourists.
On Wednesday night, Muifa abated from a super typhoon to a strong typhoon, but it is still expected to be one of the most powerful typhoons to hit China in recent years.
Muifa will probably move further inland after landing, bringing rainfall to more than ten provinces over an area of 1 million square km, said Lou Maoyuan, deputy chief of the Zhejiang Provincial Meteorological Station.
The typhoon is expected to last for 11 days before it finally wanes, said Lou.
Lou added that it will be quite difficult to fend against Muifa, as strong winds, torrential rains, huge waves and high tides will simultaneously batter the country's shores.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a circular Thursday ordering civil affairs agencies in the city of Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi and Shandong to monitor the situation closely and carry out disaster relief operations in a timely manner.
Government-run storage bases for relief materials in the cities of Hefei, Fuzhou, Wuhan and Changsha were also advised to prepare for the possible dispersal of their materials.
The ministry, along with the National Commission for Disaster Reduction, sent a work team to Zhejiang Thursday to direct preparatory work for the typhoon.
More than 4,000 vessels have been called back to harbor in Zhejiang's cities of Ningbo and Taizhou.
In Fujian, flood control authorities have called more than 5,000 fishing vessels back to the city's harbor.
Shanghai railway authorities have established an inspection team to examine high-speed railway facilities, stating that some train services may run behind schedule or even be halted depending on the storm's severity.
Muifa will start to move over the East China Sea on Friday evening, according to a statement from China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center.
The forecasting center is continuing its orange alert for high sea waves, the second-highest alert in the four-level high wave warning system. The center said that the East China Sea will see waves of 9 to 12 meters high from Friday to Saturday, with waters near Shanghai and Zhejiang experiencing waves of 3 to 4.5 meters high during the same period
Waters near Jiangsu and Fujian provinces will also see waves of 2.5 to 3.5 meters high, the statement said.
The center on Friday morning also issued a yellow alert, the warning system's second-lowest alert, for storm surges caused by the typhoon.
Coastal areas between the estuary of the Yangtze River and Fujian Province are expected to see their water levels increase by 50 to 120 cm between Friday morning and Saturday morning.
Water levels in Fujian may exceed safe levels, according to the statement.