East China Braces for Typhoon Wypha

This image provided by NOAA shows Typhoon Wipha taken Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007 at 3:33 a.m. EDT. Wipha, expected to be the most powerful storm to hit China in a decade, churned toward the densely populated coast on Tuesday with 165 mph wind gusts, and the
This image provided by NOAA shows Typhoon Wipha taken Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007 at 3:33 a.m. EDT. Wipha, expected to be the most powerful storm to hit China in a decade, churned toward the densely populated coast on Tuesday with 165 mph wind gusts, and the

(AP)

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Shanghai closed schools and 1.8 million people were evacuated from coastal areas Tuesday as Typhoon Wipha, forecast to be the most powerful storm to hit the region in a decade, thrashed toward the Chinese mainland.

One worker was killed and another seriously injured as the fringe of the typhoon lashed Taiwan, knocking down scaffolding at a highway construction site in Taipei, Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center reported.

Schools, offices and the stock market in northern Taiwan were closed and flights from Taiwan to Japan, South Korea and a few other Asian countries were canceled, officials said.

Organizers of the women's World Cup, meanwhile, rescheduled Wednesday's Shanghai match between Norway and Ghana to Thursday and moved it to the neighboring city of Hangzhou.

A Wednesday game in Hangzhou between Brazil and Denmark was moved to Thursday.

By midnight local time the typhoon appeared to be weakening and looked likely to hit land early Wednesday further south of Shanghai than originally forecast, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local meteorologists.

As a precaution, however, authorities ordered most schools closed Wednesday in Shanghai, a city of more than 20 million and China's financial hub. The Shanghai Stock Exchange might close if "emergency measures" were necessary, Xinhua reported.

Chinese state-run television showed families being evacuated from their fishing boats and other vessels. Shopkeepers stacked sand bags to prevent flooding as drains clogged amid torrential rains.

The storm forced the cancellation of many flights out of Shanghai and other regional airports, state media reports said.

Wipha, a woman's name in Thai, was upgraded from a tropical storm Monday. With wind gusts of up to 165 miles per hour, local meteorological officials said it would be the most destructive storm to hit the Shanghai area in years if it followed a course northward that would take it just west of the city.

"The typhoon is very likely to develop into the worst one in recent years. We are still observing it. It's hard to say at this moment," said a man who answered the phone at the city's meteorological bureau. As is common with Chinese officials, the man identified himself only by his surname, Fu.

Shanghai and the coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian to the south issued typhoon warnings requiring all vessels to return to shore or change course to avoid the storm, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The government said 1.8 million people living in coastal or low-lying areas of Shanghai, Zhejiang and Fujian had been evacuated.

The deadliest storm to hit the China coast in recent years was Typhoon Winnie in 1997, which killed 236 people. Typhoon Rananim, with winds of more than 100 mph, was the strongest typhoon to hit the Chinese mainland since 1956, killing nearly 200 people.