Houston Community News >> Typhoon Lashes Out on China

10/2/2007 Beijing - Chinese authorities on Tuesday evacuated 100,000 people as Typhoon Lekima lashed the southern tourist island of Hainan after killing at least nine people in the Philippines, state media reported.

Meteorologists warned of possible flash floods and landslides triggered by the heavy rains unleashed by Lekima which was packing winds of nearly 119km/h, Xinhua news agency said.

The eye of the storm was 95km south-east of Hainan's southernmost city of Sanya and moving at 15km/h towards the island where it was expected to make landfall or pass close by Wednesday morning, it said.

Sluice gates at 17 reservoirs on Hainan have been opened to divert possible flood water, Xinhua said, quoting a spokesperson of the Hainan Provincial Headquarters of Flood, Typhoon and Drought Control.

More than 20 000 fishing boats have also been recalled to harbour, he said.

A Pananma-registered ship with 29 Chinese crew was grounded near Yangpu in western Hainan amid waves up to five metres and gale-force winds, Xinhua said.

Nineteen of them had been plucked to safety by helicopter by Tuesday evening, it said.

The island close to northern Vietnam is a popular destination for Chinese tourists but the storm had already hit bookings during the current week-long National Day holiday, the agency said.

More than 3 000 passengers, mostly tourists, were delayed Tuesday because the ferry service from neighbouring Guangdong province on the mainland had been suspended, according to the Guangdong Maritime Affairs Bureau, Xinhua said.

Six flights from the island's capital Haikou were also cancelled but 143 were not affected, it said.

Heavy rains and strong gales were forecast to hit most of Hainan and the coastal areas of Guangxi and Guangdong provinces Wednesday, Xinhua said.

Lekima was upgraded to a typhoon on Tuesday afternoon after lashing the Philippines where it killed nine people and left another missing after unleashing landslides, floods and big waves.

Contributed by IOL