Typhoon Vicente threatens southern provinces
Updated: 2012-07-24 08:06
By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou and Huang Yiming in Haikou (China Daily)
Typhoon Vicente was barreling toward Guangdong and Hainan provinces and part of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Monday night and early Tuesday morning, according to meteorological authorities.
Because of the typhoon, ferry service across Qiongzhou Strait has been suspended since 6 pm on Sunday, leaving many passengers and vehicles stranded in Haikou, Hainan province, and the Leizhou Peninsula in western Guangdong.
Train service between Beijing and Sanya in Hainan, as well as between Haikou and Shanghai, Changsha, Xi'an and Chengdu, has been rescheduled due to the suspension of rail ferry service between Guangdong and Hainan.
Local authorities said the ferry service will not be restored until Tuesday afternoon, when Vicente weakens.
In Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, 16 flights from Shenzhen Baoan International Airport were canceled on Monday because of the bad weather, and 10 ferry services linking the airport to Hong Kong and Macao were canceled.
Authorities have also cancelled six helicopter flights to Macao because of the storm.
In Guangzhou, many passengers were stranded in Baiyun International Airport after nine domestic flights were cancelled and 153 others delayed due to the storm.
Only 41 percent of domestic flights could take off from the airport as scheduled, according to an official from the airport on Monday.
Vicente is so far the strongest typhoon to hit China's coastal areas this year.
According to the Guangdong provincial meteorological observatory, the powerful rainstorm lashing Pearl River Delta cities will not subside until Thursday.
Some cities in South China have already been hit by raging storms in previous two days.
Haikou had 113.5 millimeters of rain and wind gusting at close to 70 kilometers per hour on Sunday night and Monday morning.
Huang Jianxue, a resident of Haikou, said the gale was so strong that many people stayed indoors on Monday.
"I was soaked to the bone when I got home from work," he said.
"Peoples' raincoats were whipped around by the gales," he added.
The city's meteorological center issued a red storm alert on Monday, the highest warning level in China's four-tier color-coded weather warning system.
By noon on Monday, 2,486 fishing boats had returned to typhoon shelters in Haikou.
On Yongxing island in Sansha, Hainan, many coconut palms were toppled by the winds.
Cities in the Pearl River Delta, including Guangzhou, have been struck by the storms in the past two days. In Huizhou, Zhuhai, Yangjiang, Zhanjiang and Maoming, downtown streets were flooded after the downpours.
Liu Kun, deputy governor of Guangdong, has urged cities in the coastal areas to do what they can to avoid casualties and minimize economic loss.
"All the fishing boats must return to safe waters before Vicente makes landfall," he said at a work conference on Monday.
He said priority must be given to protecting agriculture, water conservancy projects and coastal and river dikes.
In Yangjiang alone, more than 6,500 fishing boats had returned to typhoon shelters ahead of Vicente.
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Huang Yuli in Shenzhen, Guangdong, contributed to this story.
(China Daily 07/24/2012 page3)