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E China Province Relocates Thousands, Prepares for Tropical Storm

East China's Fujian Province has relocated more than 20,000 people to safety as the tropical storm Pabuk heads toward the province, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said.

More than 6,700 boats have returned to shore and the headquarters are organizing more boats and fishermen to move out of the area where Pabuk is expected to sweep through.

Forecasters say the storm, packing winds of 108 km per hour, may hit Fujian on Wednesday afternoon after making landfall in Taiwan on Tuesday.

Heavy downpours are forecast for central and southern parts of the province and precipitation is expected to reach 150 millimeters.

The headquarters has sent out more than 1.7 million text messages to keep residents updated about the coming storm.

In the neighboring Zhejiang Province, ships and boats are also urged to return and seek shelter in the harbors, said sources with the maritime affairs bureau of the province.

Pabuk, named after a type of large freshwater fish in Laos, unleashed heavy rain in the southeastern part of Taiwan as it approached the island on Tuesday.

Eastern and southern China are regularly affected by tropical storms and typhoons in summer. Typhoons Bilis and Saomai claimed more than 1,000 lives in China last year.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2007)

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