Typhoon batters China after missing Hong Kong
Hong Kong, May 18: A typhoon which killed 37 people in the Philippines made landfall in south China today, battering coastal Guangdong and Fujian provinces where hundreds of thousands of people had fled to safety.
Typhoon Chanchu, packing winds up to 170 kph (106 mph) and the strongest typhoon on record to enter the South China Sea in May, made landfall between the cities of Shantou and Xiamen and was advancing northeast, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage but Chinese state television said heavy rain would extend as far east as Shanghai and as far inland as Jiangxi province.
Typhoons, drawing power from the warm water, roar into China from the South China Sea every year between May and September, losing strength once they make landfall.
The eye of Chanchu crossed the Chinese coast half way between Hong Kong and Taiwan, both often the victims of direct hits.
The China News Service said Fujian had evacuated 578,000 people and state television reported that 320,000 people had been moved to safety in Guangdong.
Thousands of ships were called back to port, schools suspended classes and the government warned of flooding.
An ore-carrying Belgian ship with eight crew members was stranded offshore and a Chinese rescue vessel was expected to reach it on Thursday, state television said.
In Taiwan, rescuers winched to safety the crew of an oil tanker that had run aground off the coast of Kaoshiung after being hit by a large wave, television footage showed.
In the Philippines, Chanchu killed at least 37 people last weekend and ''affected'' about 53,300 people in wide areas of Luzon and the Visayas, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.