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Typhoon, smog plague China

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By USA Today
Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, 10:12 p.m.

BEIJING — Extreme weather conditions — both natural and man-made — are ruining the October “Golden Week” for many Chinese travelers and threatening the lives and livelihoods of people in the path of a typhoon packing wind of up to 94 mph.

More than 400,000 residents and tourists in southeast China had been evacuated by Sunday afternoon as high waves from Typhoon Fitow pounded the coast, state news agency Xinhua reported.

China's National Meteorological Center predicted the “strong” typhoon would hit between Zhejiang and Fujian provinces in southeast China early Monday local time.

Meanwhile, a dense haze of pollution and fog covered most of northern China on Sunday, shutting dozens of major highways, Xinhua reported.

The smog reached such a hazardous level, even for China's long-suffering capital, that the U.S. Embassy sent an email alert to American citizens in Beijing, advising they stay indoors and keep their air purifiers on.

The typhoon and smog come at the close of a weeklong national holiday, called a “Golden Week” here by authorities eager for travelers and consumers to spend freely before millions of Chinese head home as work restarts Tuesday.

High-speed “Harmony” series bullet trains were suspended Sunday in several cities in Zhejiang, Fujian and neighboring provinces ahead of the typhoon. Zhejiang's Wenzhou airport canceled 27 flights Sunday, Xinhua reported.

Typhoon Fitow, named after a Micronesian flower, also forced China's maritime authorities to upgrade their severe weather warning Sunday to a red alert, the highest level of a four-tier system, for storm tides and waves.

The violent storm is the 23rd typhoon to hit China this year, according to the Chinese government's count, but comes later than usual in a typhoon season that usually starts in July and ends in October.

Smog remains a year-round problem in Beijing.

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