POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 7:01 a.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011
BEIJING >> China warned residents and alerted emergency relief centers Friday to prepare for a powerful typhoon that was heading toward China's heavily populated eastern coast.
Typhoon Muifa is forecast to hit China late Saturday or early Sunday close to Shanghai, a commercial hub with a population of 23 million. Residents were warned to take precautions to prevent injuries and losses, the website of the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported.
More than 9,000 fishing vessels were called back to ports in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces while officials in charge of disaster relief centers in the region were told to get ready to disperse their materials, said the official Xinhua News Agency.
Zhejiang's flood headquarters told authorities in coastal areas to prepare for evacuations, Xinhua said.
Shanghai's two airports expect major flight delays and numerous cultural activities were called off for the weekend, including a beach music festival, Shanghai's Eastday.com news portal said.
An emergency message from the U.S. government to Americans living or traveling in East China suggested they "stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, and cash in case of storm-related power outages."
Typhoon Muifa caused power outages and injuries as it passed by Japan's southern island of Okinawa on Friday and dusted northern Taiwan with light rain and moderate winds earlier Friday.
It is expected to hit between northern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu provinces late Saturday or early Sunday and then skim the coast to the north, China's Central Meteorological Administration said.
The administration issued its highest alert yet this year due to the storm, which was packing winds of 102 mph. It said the storm likely would intensify as it neared China's coast.
China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center warned Muifa could churn up 36 foot high waves in the East China Sea and 16 foot waves off the coast.
Shanghai rail authorities planned inspections of local high-speed rail networks and warned that some services could be halted or delayed depending on the storm's severity, Xinhua said.
A train crash last month near Shanghai killed 40 people. Officials initially said a lightning strike stalled one train, which was struck by another, but results of the accident investigation have not yet been released.
Kyodo news agency reported the typhoon had caused 27 injuries on Okinawa and power was out to more than 60,000 homes. The center of the storm was offshore but high winds and heavy rain were forecast until Saturday morning.
North Korea's state news agency reported late Friday some parts of the country would get heavy rains from the typhoon between Monday and Tuesday. Flooding in recent weeks has caused deaths and damage to homes and farmland in the impoverished country.