Authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province ordered ships back to port, told schools to close and to evacuate tourists from nearby islands as one of the strongest typhoons this year makes landfall on Wednesday.
Typhoon Muifa intensified on Tuesday as it moved towards the twin port cities of Ningbo and Zhoushan, which share the ranking of China’s second busiest ports in terms of cargo handled.
State media said China’s 12th cyclone of the year was expected to make landfall between the cities of Wenling and Zhoushan, bringing heavy rains across eastern and southern coastal areas.
The official Xinhua news agency said it includes the commercial centers of Shanghai, north of Ningbo and Zhoushan.
Waves of up to 5 meters (16 feet) are expected near Shanghai, China’s busiest container seaport.
Shanghai will suspend some of its port operations, including the Yangshan terminal and others, from Tuesday evening and halt all operations on Wednesday morning, the Shanghai Institute of International Shipping said.
China Southern Airlines said it canceled 25 flights at Shanghai airports on Tuesday and plans to cancel 11 more on Wednesday.
About 13,000 people have been evacuated from islands and tourist areas around Zhoushan, state television said.
Nearly 7,400 commercial ships sought refuge in ports in Zhejiang, including Zhoushan, Ningbo and Taizhou, while passenger ship routes across the province were suspended as of noon, state media said.
The three cities and Shanghai together have a population of 42.26 million.
The Zhejiang government ordered all fishing boats to return to port before noon. Ningbo, Zhoushan and Taizhou were ordered to suspend schools on Wednesday.
All flights from Ningbo and Zhoushan airports have been canceled for Wednesday, flight data platform Variflight told Reuters.
Weather authorities said Muifa’s center was about 490 km (304.5 miles) from the Zhejiang city of Xiangshan. The typhoon will move northwest after landfall and gradually weaken, the Central Meteorological Administration added.