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Tropical storm forces 100,000 to evacuate
Updated: 2005-09-24 09:01

More than 100,000 people were evacuated as southern China braced for tropical storm Damrey, just a week after another typhoon caused widespread damage.

The storm, China's 18th this year, was expected to land in south China Saturday night or Sunday morning, meteorologists from southern China's island province of Hainan said.

They warned of heavy rains and urged local officials to prepare for possible disaster, including flooding and other storm-related mishaps.

Friday afternoon, the Hainan meteorological observatory said, the storm was at sea about 720 kilometers (446 miles) east of Hainan's capital Haikou, the Xinhua news agency said.

It was moving westward at a speed of 10 to 15 kilometers per hour and would likely land between Hainan island's Lingshui county and nearby Guangdong province's Dianbai county, the observatory said.

Strong winds were already being whipped up by Damrey at sea near Hainan, the observatory said.

To avoid widespread casualties, the nearby province of Fujian, which last week was hit by Typhoon Khanun, began evacuating fishermen, fish farmers and others living or working in coastal waters, Xinhua said.

As of noon Friday, 121,000 people in Fujian had been evacuated to safe areas and 7,091 boats had returned to harbour, it said.

East and southeast China are prone to tropical storms and typhoons and have been pummeled by dozens over the past 50 years.

Earlier this month, Typhoon Talim left at least 124 dead and 31 missing after slowly churning its way through the eastern province of Zhejiang further up China's coast. Some 19 million residents in several provinces were affected and 1.84 million of them had to be evacuated, according to official figures.

Last week, Typhoon Khanun struck the same area, killing at least 14 people, with nine others missing. A total of 5.5 million residents were affected in Zhejiang and neighboring provinces, with more than 1.35 million people evacuated.

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