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Typhoon advances toward Taiwan and mainland China

Written by: Staff
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TAIPEI, Aug 9 (Reuters) Typhoon Saomai moved closer to Taiwan's capital, with landfall expected by tomorrow morning, as a tropical storm fizzled at the south end of the island and another changed its course, veering toward the east of Japan.

Saomai, approaching from the east with sustained winds of 155 kph and gusts up to 191 kph, is expected to lash Taipei by 8 a.m. tomorrow before moving on to Fujian province in eastern China, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau Web site (http://www.cwb.gov.tw).

As of GMT 5:15, Saomai was 560 km east of Taiwan's northern port of Keelung.

The weather bureau issued land and sea warnings, anticipating strong winds in northern Taiwan, today afternoon. The Keelung port, Taiwan's second largest, may close today evening, a port official said.

Heavy rains will hit the Chinese cities of Wenzhou, Taizhou, Ningbo and Lishui in Zhejiang province through Friday, with wind gusts of 70 to 120 km per hour, said China's Xinhua news agency, quoting the provincial meteorological observatory.

The observatory warned of landslides in mountainous areas and advised all ships to return to harbour.

The storm is already bringing heavy rains to Zhejiang and Fujian province, which has been hit by other typhoons this year.

Yesterday night, tropical storm Bopha passed over southern Taiwan but had little impact. The port of Kaohsiung reported normal operations today, while China's southernmost county of Pingtung reported only minor rainwater drainage problems.

Pingtung officials met late yesterday and decided the storm's winds and rain were not strong enough to call off classes or make people stay home from work, said Yang Chi-shu, disaster planning department head under the county fire department.

Bopha is moving toward China at 20 kph, according to the meteorological observatory of Fujian province, Xinhua said. Its sustained winds are as high as 65 kph, with gusts to 90 kph.

A third storm, typhoon Maria, with winds up to 82.8 kph, had a slim chance of landing on Japan's main island of Honshu as it veered east earlier and was moving northeast at the speed of 35 kph today. It was expected to turn into a tropical storm tomorrow, weather experts said.

But the storm could dump as much as 15 cm (5.9 inches) of rain in some coastal areas north of Tokyo, the weather forecasters warned. There have been no reports of damage or casualties caused by typhoons moving near Japan.

Typhoons and tropical storms are common in Taiwan, southeast China and the Philippines during a season that lasts from early summer to late autumn. Tropical storm Prapiroon killed 77 people in China last week, Xinhua said.

REUTERS PB DS1245

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