GHAI (AFP) - Eastern China on Sunday braced for the arrival of Typhoon Muifa, with thousands of boats ordered to stay in ports after the storm left one person missing further down the coast.
Muifa had been due to hit near Shanghai over the weekend, but it changed course while at sea and was now heading for Shandong province where it was to make landfall Monday morning, the national meteorological centre said.
The weather bureau in Shandong said the typhoon was expected to weaken to a tropical storm when it hit, but authorities still ordered around 20,000 fishing boats to remain in dock, the official Xinhua news agency said. Some flights to and from Qingdao - a city in Shandong famous for Tsingtao beer, and which was expected to be hit by the storm - were cancelled.
Authorities had expressed concern that Muifa may wreak havoc similar to the destruction unleashed by Typhoon Saomai in 2006 -- the worst to hit China in 50 years -- which killed at least 450 people. As such, more than 600,000 people have already been evacuated from several areas along the eastern coast, including Shanghai.
The typhoon brought strong rain and winds to the commercial city on Sunday, blowing down power lines, knocking down signposts and toppling trees in some areas, local media reported.
At least one person went missing in the neighbouring province of Zhejiang when a boat sank, Xinhua reported.
Rain and winds brought down nearly 170 houses in the province, and caused 1.9 billion yuan ($290 million) in direct economic losses, it added.
The two airports in Shanghai halted many flights Sunday morning, following the cancellation of more than 200 departures the previous day, which affected nearly 30,000 passengers.
But the storm soon passed and flights resumed in the afternoon, local media said, and there were no reports of major road blockages in the city.
Muifa also skirted along South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju, Yonhap news agency said, with its strong winds downing trees and electricity poles, leaving thousands of homes without power.
Jeju's airport cancelled most flights, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre has warned that the typhoon could affect an even wider area than initially predicted if it continues to hug the eastern coast and makes landfall further north.
"In this case, Muifa would affect the whole eastern and northern sea area," it said.
In anticipation of such a development, authorities in the northeastern port city of Dalian, further up the coast from Shandong, halted an annual beer festival two days ahead of schedule, Xinhua said.