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China Evacuates 150,000 People as Typhoon Nears

A man stands in flood waters brought on Typhoon Megi in the north eastern town of Yilan, Taiwan as it passes south of the island to China, 21 Oct 2010

Chinese authorities have evacuated more than 150,000 people from the country's southeastern coast as one of the strongest typhoons in years approaches the region.

Typhoon Megi was centered over the northern part of the South China Sea late Thursday and was moving north slowly toward the eastern part of China's Guangdong province. Weather models predict the storm will make landfall Saturday near Shantou city, east of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Observatory said Megi had maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers an hour and could intensify before hitting land.

China has issued a red alert for the typhoon, the highest of its four-step warning system. It warned of huge storm surges that could devastate coastal villages and cities. In Hong Kong, a strong wind warning was in effect.

Chinese authorities said they were moving residents of Guangdong to higher ground and already had evacuated 150,000 people in Fujian province to the north.

Officials also ordered tens of thousands of fishing boats to return to harbor and shut down ports and oil terminals in Hong Kong and neighboring cities.

Elsewhere in the region, Typhoon Megi's outer rain bands dumped heavy rain on Taiwan, triggering floods and landslides that stranded motorists on highways. The storm also caused flooding and killed at least two people on a southern Japanese island.

Megi swept across the northern Philippines earlier this week as a "super" typhoon with winds of 225 kilometers an hour, killing at least 20 people and destroying homes and rice crops.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.