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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tropical storm brings rain, wind to China, NKorea (AP)

BEIJING – A tropical storm was lashing northeast China and North Korea as it approached land Monday, but fears of a toxic chemical spill appeared to have eased after a breached dike guarding a chemical plant was reinforced.

Waves as high as 65 feet (20 meters) broke the dike in Dalian in northeastern Liaoning province and threatened to hit the compound of Fujiahua chemical plant where unspecified chemicals were held, and residents were told to evacuate, Xinhua News Agency said, citing soldiers at the scene.

An official from Dalian's Propaganda Department referred The Associated Press to two reports on a Dalian news website that said the danger had been controlled and the dike was being reinforced with large stones and concrete. The official gave only his surname, Zhang, as is common with Chinese officials.

The waves were caused by Tropical Storm Muifa, which China's weather agency forecast will make landfall Monday evening somewhere in Liaoning province or western North Korea.

The Central Meteorological Station reported coastal winds up to 46.6 miles per hour (75 kilometers per hour) in Liaoning and Shandong provinces and heavy rain in Liaoning on Monday afternoon.

Citing a weather agency, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said heavy rain was falling and expected through the night in northwestern provinces as the storm inches northward.

South Korea's state weather agency, the Korea Meteorological Administration, said up to 8 inches (200 millimeters) of rain were expected in some western areas of North Korea. Waves up to 26 feet (8 meters) high were also expected along the coastal areas due to Muifa, the agency said.

The Central Meteorological Station said Muifa was creating sea gusts of up to 63 mph (102 kph) and traveling at a speed of 15-18 mph (25-30 kph). It will weaken after making landfall and bring heavy rain to Liaoning, it said.

Previously a strong typhoon, Muifa downed power lines, billboards and trees in Shanghai and brought heavy rain to coastal Shandong province Sunday. Last week, it killed four people in the Philippines and caused injuries and power outages in far southern Japan without making landfall.

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