300,000 evacuated as typhoon Nesat lands

Updated: 2011-09-30 07:21


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300,000 evacuated as typhoon Nesat lands

A woman braves the rain as typhoon Nesat approaches in Sanya, Hainan province, Sept 29, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]

HAIKOU - About 300,000 people have been evacuated as Typhoon Nesat landed in the southern-most island province of Hainan Thursday afternoon.

Packing winds of 42 meters per second at its center, it made landfall in Wengtian Township in Wenchang at 2:30 pm, bringing heavy winds and torrential rain to the city in eastern Hainan.

The city had evacuated 57,738 people from disaster-prone areas, including low-lying areas and fishing boats, said Fu Taosheng, deputy director of the city's flood control and drought relief headquarters.

According to the provincial meteorological bureau, precipitation in 72 townships in the province exceeded 100 mm between 8 am and 4 pm Thursday.

The province has also recalled ships, suspended flight and ferry services and closed schools in preparation for Nesat, which is the 17th typhoon to hit China this year as well as the strongest.

It is also the strongest typhoon to hit Hainan since 2005, said Cai Qinbo, head of the provincial weather station.

Chen Cheng, vice governor of Hainan, ordered all fishing boats to return to harbor and fishermen to take shelter ashore. So far, a total of 27,223 fishing boats have been recalled to harbor.

The storm seriously disrupted local transportation services.

All flights were canceled at the Sanya Phoenix International Airport on Thursday, while 143 flights were canceled and 32 delayed in Haikou Meilan Airport.

Passenger ferry services across the Qiongzhou Strait have been suspended since Wednesday, while railway services stopped Thursday morning.

As a result, vegetables could not be transported from other parts of the country, causing prices to surge on Thursday. In the provincial capital of Haikou, prices of vegetables, including cabbage, lettuce and tomato, rose by as much as 33 percent.

Hainan has stopped selling bus tickets and encouraged passengers that had planned to take buses in the next two days to return their tickets.

To ensure children's safety, all kindergartens, primary and middle schools in Wenchang, Sanya, Qionghai and Haikou, have suspended classes from Thursday to Friday.

Li Hongbo, director of the provincial water resources bureau, said the government has given orders to ensure the safety of all reservoirs and to protect people living in both low-lying regions and areas downstream from dangerous reservoirs.

The State Oceanic Administration on Thursday sent a work team to Hainan to assist with disaster relief operations.

At 9:15 pm, Typhoon Nesat landed in Xuwen County in Guangdong Province, packing strong winds and unleashing downpours, according to the provincial weather station.

It is still moving northwest at 20 kilometers per hour, on course to enter the Beibu Gulf, the station said.

Nesat sent surging waves crashing over seawalls. The strong waves have also damaged sections of seawalls in Guangdong.

Residents living near the seawalls have already been evacuated, according to the provincial flood control headquarters.

The typhoon has also brought storms to neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, forcing over 3,000 schools to close.

The typhoon killed at least 35 in the Philippines.