Typhoon hits southern China, Vietnam next

/ Source: The Associated Press

Typhoon Hagupit swept into southern China's Guangdong province Wednesday, uprooting trees, knocking down billboards and forcing the evacuation of more than 28,000 people before weakening into a tropical storm, state-run media reported.

Packing winds of 106 mph, the storm made landfall in the city of Maoming after lashing the Asian financial center of Hong Kong, where schools and courts remained closed. The storm injured 58 people in Hong Kong while collapsing scaffolding and triggering flash flooding, officials said.

In southern Guangdong, officials evacuated 17,324 people in the coastal city of Yangjiang, and more than 11,000 had to leave nearby Xuwen County, the official Xinhua News Agency said. About 51,000 ships with 200,000 crew returned to harbor, the report said.

Hagupit blew over trees and billboards in Maoming, and it forced the closure of schools in the city of Zhanjiang, Xinhua said.

But no major damage or deaths have been reported in Guangdong — one of China's biggest manufacturing centers.

In Hong Kong, at least 148 passenger flights were either canceled or delayed and another three were diverted, the city's government said.

Xinhua reported that most domestic flights were canceled Tuesday evening at the airport in Shenzhen, just across the border with Hong Kong. But the airport's Web site said Wednesday morning that planes were arriving and departing on schedule.

In Vietnam, authorities prepared to evacuate people from high-risk areas as Hagupit moved toward the country.

The typhoon was expected bring heavy rain to Vietnam's north and could unleash major flooding, the national weather forecast center said on its Web site.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged local authorities to make available stockpiles of food and medicine in areas often isolated by floods.

Vietnam is prone to floods and storms that kill hundreds of people each year.