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Half a Million Evacuated as Sinlaku Approaches E China

About half a million people in east China's Zhejiang and Fujian provinces have been evacuated as tropical storm Sinlaku, which was weakened from a typhoon on Monday morning, was approaching.

The Fujian provincial headquarters for flood control said on Monday morning that close to 230,000 people had been evacuated as of 9:00 PM on Sunday and the mass evacuation was still under way.

In Zhejiang, nearly 270,000 residents have been evacuated and 30,000 fishing boats have been recalled to harbor.

Typhoon Sinlaku weakened into a tropical storm at 8:00 AM on Monday. Its eye was reported to be about 196 km to the southeast of Wenzhou in southeastern Zhejiang at 11:00 AM, moving northwestward at a speed of 5 km per hour, according to the local weather authorities.

However, the storm moved east-northeastward at a speed of 20 kmper hour at 3:00 PM on Monday. "It is farther and farther away from Zhejiang," said Li Jian, head of the Zhejiang Meteorological Bureau.

The storm is expected to leave the waters of Zhejiang on Monday night or Tuesday, according to experts of the bureau.

However, Zhejiang Governor Lu Zushan said on Monday the threat of Sinlaku remained although it weakened into a tropical storm, warning local governments of landslides and flash flood.

Heavy rains were reported in the coastal provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangsu on Monday.

In Wenzhou, Zhejiang, two rural highways were cut off as a result of heavy rain. The rain also damaged crops and triggered small-scale flash flood and landslides. However, there were no reports of casualties.

Sinlaku, the 13th tropical storm so far this year in China, injured 13 people when it hit northeastern Taiwan on Sunday.

More than 130,000 households in Taiwan suffered a power blackout, and 800 lost their water supply, which has yet to be reconnected. A total of 32 shelters have been built for 782 typhoon victims, local authority said.

Work and schools were suspended in 21 counties and cities on the island on Sunday.

(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2008)


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