China ordered ships to return to ports, closure of schools and evacuation of tourists in eastern Zhejiang province on Tuesday as the region braces for one of the strongest typhoons this year to make landfall.
Typhoon Muifa, which barrelled towards the port cities of Ningbo and Zhoushan on Tuesday is expected to make landfall on Wednesday between Wenling and Zhoushan.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, the typhoon is expected to bring torrential rain across eastern and southern coastal areas, including China’s financial hub Shanghai which is just north of Ningbo and Zhoushan.
Ningbo, Zhoushan and Taizhou ordered schools to be suspended for Wednesday.
The three cities, along with Shanghai, have a population of 42.26 million.
The Central Meteorological Administration (CMA) said the typhoon’s centre was around 490km (304.5 miles) southeast of Xiangshan city in Zhejiang.
Waves of up to 5m (16ft) are expected near Shanghai, China’s busiest container seaport.
Shanghai International Shipping Institute said the hub will suspend some operations of its port, including Yangshan terminal and others from Tuesday evening and halt all operations on Wednesday morning.
In anticipation of the storm, China Southern Airlines announced the cancellation of 25 flights across Shanghai airports on Tuesday and said it planned to cancel another 11 flights for Wednesday.
Around 13,000 people have already been evacuated from islands and tourist sites near Zhoushan.
State media reported that around 7,400 commercial vessels sought shelter in ports in Zhejiang, including Zhoushan, Ningbo and Taizhou, while passenger ship routes across the province were suspended as of noon.
The local Zhejiang government ordered all fishing vessels to return to dock before noon.
Muifa will be China’s twelfth cyclone this year and will gradually weaken after it makes landfall, according to the CMA.
Additional reporting by agencies