Beijing: Thousands of people have been evacuated and over 200 flights were cancelled on Saturday as typhoon Muifa surged towards China's eastern seaboard packing a wind speed of 162 kmph.

The storm was expected to move northward after brushing Shanghai late Saturday night, weather officials said. Muifa was located about 630 km from Shanghai at 7 a.m. Saturday and was moving northwest, Xinhua reported.

Over 200,000 people in Shanghai were evacuated to safe places Saturday. Also, 75 flights were cancelled and the ships near the coast were called back to port. The storm's centre was expected 200 km east of Shanghai when it brushes past the city, said Wu Rui of the met office.

Some 230,000 people Friday were also evacuated from the eastern Zhejiang province over the looming Muifa threat.

In Hangzhou, the provincial capital, 140 flights were cancelled Saturday. Air China cancelled all its inbound and outbound flights scheduled Saturday afternoon from Hangzhou's international airport, officials said.

Meanwhile, the railway authorities in Shanghai have drawn up a plan to deal with the situation in an emergency, while the flood control authorities in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces have ordered fishing vessels to return to the harbour.

The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre also issued a red alert for high seawaves, up to 11 meters high between Saturday and Sunday morning, in the East China Sea.

The storm, packing winds of up to 162 kmph, was expected to make landfall in the northern coast of Zhejiang province Saturday night and swirl past the west of Shanghai, the Shanghai Daily reported quoting the city weather bureau.

The possibility of Muifa directly hitting Shanghai was however not ruled out.

"We are facing a big challenge in our utilities, especially the subway and tunnels, as the city hasn't met such a level of typhoon since Matsa in 2005," the daily quoted Shen Jun, vice mayor of Shanghai, as saying.

He said he has asked the concerned departments to be ready to evacuate people. Construction work of high-rise buildings have been suspended and rescue crews, including police, army and fire departments, are on standby, Shen added.

(Agencies)