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20,000 evacuated in SE China as typhoon Morakot nears; nine fishermen missing

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FUZHOU/TAIPEI/HANGZHOU, Aug 07, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- 4th Ld-Writethru-China Focus: 20,000 evacuated in SE China as typhoon Morakot nears; nine fishermen missing.

A fishing boat capsized at about 10 p.m. off the coast of southern island province of Hainan as the tropical storm Goni wreak the havoc. All the 10 fishermen fall into the water and only one managed to swim to the beach.

Rescers were searching for the missing.

Authorities in southeast China's Fujian Province has ordered all schools and scenic spots to close before 4 p.m. Friday, as typhoon Morakot nears.

The Fujian provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said Friday that about 34,000 vessels had been recalled to port and 21,190 people in the cities of Ningde, Putian, Fuzhou and Quanzhou had been relocated to safe areas.

The headquarters has entrusted the education bureau to notify schools in the four cities to stop all activities, and make sure all teachers and students leave safely.

Waves as high as six meters were already hitting the coastal area on Friday, and the provincial meteorological observatory said they could reach up to nine meters as the typhoon came closer.

According to China National Meteorological Center, Morakot, the eighth typhoon to affect China's mainland, was 180 km southeast of Keelung, Taiwan, as of 10 a.m. Friday, packing winds up to 144 km per hour in the center.

It is moving at 15 km per hour northwestward, and is expected to hit Taiwan Friday evening, and would land in northern Fujian and central Zhejiang sometime from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning.

Dong Rong, deputy director of the Fujian observatory, said, Morakot would be the strongest typhoon to land in China's mainland this year.

The provincial government has sent 8.4 million text messages to mobile phone users, warning people of its approach.

All of the mainland's three direct shipping routes with Taiwan were closed Friday, after the route between Xiamen City, in Fujian, and Jinmen, in Taiwan, closed Friday afternoon.

More than 3,300 soldiers at the Armed Police in Fujian are on the alert against strong typhoon. They have prepared plenty life vests and rings, signal emitters, water-proof illumination devices, speed boats and motor vehicles to offer timely help.

According to the Taiwan weather department, Morakot was slowing, but remained a strong typhoon, indicating its impact and the duration would increase.

Taipei stock market and schools in almost all cities and counties on the island closed Friday. Most domestic and some international flights, mostly to Hong Kong, have been cancelled.

The local authorities said train services would be suspended or reduced by Friday noon.

In Zhejiang, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said Friday that the 29,987 ocean-faring fishing ships and boats have taken shelter at harbors or on ground.

Workers building the world's highest power transmission tower on Damaoshan Island in east China's Zhejiang Province stopped working Friday, and took shelter.

"The company has prepared food and water enough for four days," said Peng Lixin, the project manager.

He told Xinhua that the building of the 370-meter tower had entered the final stage. Typhoon Morakot would test the construction.

The island has no fresh water supply.

Other Chinese regions, including Shanghai and Anhui, will have more rainfall because of the impact of the typhoon. In Shanghai, the municipal weather service forecast Friday that the city would be hit by stormy weather from Saturday to Tuesday, and the average rainfall would be 90 mm.

Anhui Provincial Land and Resource Department has warned areas around Mount. Dabie in the province's southwestern part against potential landslides, rock and mud flows inflicted by excessive rains.