Officials in China have evacuated at least 200,000 from its eastern coastal regions as a severe typhoon approaches the country.

Typhoon Muifa, one of the most powerful storms the country has faced in years, has already led to the cancellation of 140 domestic airline flights, disrupted rail transport service, and prompted the call-back to shore of more than 7,000 fishing boats.

The typhoon has featured winds that have reached speeds of up to 100 miles-per-hour and generated waves as high as 36 feet at sea Chinese meteorologists believe Muifa will likely intensify as it comes close to the Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, near Shanghai.

The last powerful storm to hit the Shanghai area, Matsa in 2005, killed 19 people.

The Central Meteorological Administration of China forecasts that the current storm will touch the coast before moving northward.

The typhoon is expected to make landfall on Sunday.

Reflecting the magnitude of the storm’s potential for devastation, the Chinese National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre upgraded its warning to a red alert - the highest such measure possible - for ships in the East China Sea.

Muifa has already caused heavy flooding in the Philippines and produced blackouts in Taiwan and Okinawa.