Powerful storm hits eastern China
Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 01:08 GMT
Powerful Typhoon Wipha has hit China's densely populated eastern coast, south of the country's financial hub, Shanghai, state media say.
State TV showed huge waves hitting the shore as soldiers worked in pouring rain to help residents to move to temporary shelters.
More than two million people were earlier evacuated from Shanghai and neighbouring areas.
Experts said the storm could be the worst to hit China in a decade.
The typhoon - with winds of up to 45m per second (150ft) - made landfall at 0230 on Wednesday (1830 GMT Tuesday), the Xinhua news agency reported.
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao "demanded that relevant provinces and cities strengthen their guard against the typhoon,,, and safeguard the lives and safety of the people" in a statement posted on the Chinese government website.
The province of Zhejiang bore the first brunt of Wipha.
State TV showed waves of up to 10m (36ft) pounding eastern shores, and it reported that boats and ships had been ordered to return to port and ferry services suspended.
Earlier, heavy rains forced schools to shut and grounded flights, and flooding brought central Shanghai to a standstill.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange may close if "emergency measures" were necessary, state media reported.
North Taiwan was earlier lashed by the edge of the typhoon. One man was reported killed and another seriously hurt when scaffolding collapsed at a building site in the capital, Taipei.
China's National Meteorological Centre has described the storm as a "super typhoon".
Experts earlier said that Wipha - a woman's name in Thai - could bring up to 200mm of rain and winds of more than 200km/h (120mph).
By late on Tuesday, more than two million people had been moved from their homes in Shanghai and the nearby provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, Xinhua said.
"Wipha will hit our province head on and the areas affected would be the most economically developed and densely populated," Zhejiang provincial government said.
A meteorologist at the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, Ding Ruoyang, said that residents in vulnerable areas or structures were being relocated.
"The evacuation includes residents who live in old and dangerous houses, workers who live in temporary construction site structures, as well as workers living near the shore."
Flood control officials in Zhejiang province urged residents to be on alert for flash flooding and landslides, as rivers and reservoirs reached warning levels.
The deadliest storm to hit the coast of China in recent years was Typhoon Winnie in 1997, which killed 236 people.