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Typhoon Muifa barreled toward Shanghai, threatening to bring strong winds and flooding to the heavily populated region along China’s eastern coast.

The storm, packing wind gusts of up to 120 miles (193 kilometers) per hour, is expected to make landfall near the major port city of Ningbo as early as Wednesday afternoon and then continue north to Shanghai, state television reported. The typhoon is the biggest to hit the Yangtze River Delta in 10 years, according to local media Caixin.

Muifa should weaken as it approaches Shanghai, with the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicting wind gusts will slow to 104 mph over the next 12 hours. Still, the region -- an industrial powerhouse and Asia’s largest container port hub -- faces a direct hit. China issued the highest-level typhoon warning on Wednesday, the first time it has done so this year, according to state media. 

Major container ports in Shanghai and Ningbo suspended operations on expectations of heavy rains, strong winds and high waves. Liquefied natural gas import terminals in Ningbo, Zhoushan island and Jiangsu province have also shut. Zhoushan port is home to some of China’s largest oil storage tanks and refineries.

The storm, plus maintenance work on the country’s main import pipelines, will disrupt natural gas supply, according to Chinese consultant JLC. 

Shanghai’s two major airports canceled 589 flights on Wednesday, while nearby Hangzhou scrapped more than 200. More than 380 trains in the Yangtze River Delta were suspended, and Shanghai said it would shut down all metro services that are not underground at 9 p.m. local time. Schools in the region were shut, and Ningbo said it would halt most Covid-19 test requirements.

Typhoon Muifa’s insured losses could reach $1 billion if it inflicts flooding damage to eastern China, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Steven Lam.

The China Meteorological Administration expects the region could get 100-250 millimeters (3.9-9.8 inches) of rain in the 24 hours starting Wednesday morning, Lam noted. Zhengzhou, the epicenter of severe floods in Henan last year, got as much as 553 millimeters of rain in a day.  

Muifa follows close behind Super Typhoon Hinnamnor, which passed by China’s eastern coast last week. That storm, while much more powerful, caused only minor disruption as its edges merely brushed the coast. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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