Typhoon heads for China, targets Shanghai

01:43, Jan 31 2009

China is evacuating tens of thousands of people from its financial hub Shanghai in the face of a powerful typhoon churning towards the east coast.

About 200,000 people living in exposed areas in the city of over 14 million would be moved to temporary shelters before evening when Typhoon Wipha is expected to make landfall after swiping the island of Taiwan.

Schools, offices and markets were closed on the northern part of Taiwan near the capital, Taipei, where it has been raining steadily since late Monday.

Tropical Storm Risk graded the storm category four, meaning it was carrying maximum sustained winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour and forecast it would swipe Taiwan and head straight up the east coast of China towards Shanghai before heading out to sea again towards the Korean peninsula.

Typhoons regularly hit China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan in the summer season, gathering strength from the warm waters of the Pacific or the South China Sea before weakening over land.

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Reuters