WEIHAI, Shandong, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Typhoon Muifa, the ninth typhoon to hit China this year, is weakening as it moves further north along the country's affluent and densely-populated eastern coast, forcing the evacuation of 610,000 residents on its course, authorities said Sunday.
The typhoon, bringing gusts up to 178 km per hour, is moving at 25 km per hour towards the coast of Shandong Province where it is expected to make landfall Monday morning, the National Meteorological Center said in a bulletin.
More than 610,000 people were evacuated from dangerous areas in Shanghai and the provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang and Shandong, the country's disaster relief agency said. More than 62,700 vessels were ordered to dock.
In Shandong, the local weather forecast bureau said the typhoon might further weaken into a tropical storm when it lands, even so authorities continued to order about 20,000 fishing boats to lay anchor in harbors.
Maritime authorities on Sunday also requested vessels to either leave or stay clear from those parts of Shandong's coast most likely to be hit hardest by the typhoon.
Also in Shandong, 18 flights departing or arriving at Qingdao airport on the coast were canceled Sunday. Most of the canceled flights were headed for southern cities, such as Shanghai or Hangzhou.
In the port city of Dalian in Liaoning Province, to the north of Qingdao, authorities had ended an ongoing annual beer festival two days ahead of the schedule.
Muifa, originally a powerful typhoon, swirled into the East China Sea on Friday morning. High wave warnings were issued for coastal provinces.
"People were worried it could be another Saomai, a super typhoon in 2006, but it weakened and the level of danger has been reduced," read the weather forecast bulletin.
Typhoon Saomai killed at least 460 people in east China and forced the evacuation of over 1.5 million. Direct economic losses totaled 20 billion yuan, official statistics showed.
Maritime officials in Zhejiang Province on late Saturday reported that 35 fishing boats loaded with 300 people, which were earlier reportedly missing off the coast of Shandong, had been found along Zhejiang's coast.
The boats were tugged to the bay of Zhoushan and all the people on board were safe, the officials said.
About 190 flights were canceled since Saturday in Shanghai's two airports while two major sea bridges linking the urban area to outlying islands were also closed.
Heavy rain has drenched Shanghai. Gusts have blown away billboards and cut power in some areas, local disaster relief officials said. By Sunday afternoon, almost 80 percent of 181 damaged power lines had been restored, Shanghai's power company said.
Meanwhile, the city on Sunday lifted the sailing ban on international passenger vessels and cruises as waters calmed.