Tropical storm hits south China, 38 fishermen rescued: report
19/04/2008 15h13

BEIJING (AFP) - A severe tropical storm lashed southern China on Saturday bringing gale-force winds, as authorities reported the rescue of 38 fishermen who sheltered in reefs as the typhoon approached, state media said.

Typhoon Neoguri brought more than 260 millimetres (10 inches) of rain per hour as it hit Guangdong province after crossing Hainan island the night before, Xinhua news agency reported.

The storm caused transport chaos in neighbouring Hong Kong and Macau as ferry services and flights were cancelled or delayed.

Ferries between Macau and Hong Kong were halted after the former Portuguese colony raised the number eight gale signal in the afternoon, Hong Kong radio RTHK reported. Gusts of up to 162 kilometres (100 miles) an hour were recorded in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Dozens of flights to and from Hong Kong were cancelled or delayed, according to the airport website. Most of the affected flights were to and from mainland China.

No casualties have been reported and the typhoon weakened to a severe tropical storm after it hit Hainan, Xinhua said.

A separate report from the news agency said the storm had affected 1.3 million people in Hainan, or one in six of the island's population.

In addition, 550 houses had been damaged, and the direct financial losses came to 337 million yuan (48 million dollars).

Authorities in Hainan said a rescue ship had found 38 fishermen who swam to a reef area after their three boats were damaged. The fishermen were part of a group of 56 with whom the local fishing office had lost contact late Thursday.

Another 18 fishermen were still missing, and authorities have also dispatched a helicopter in the rescue effort. A passing freighter had joined in the search, Xinhua said.

At 10:00 pm (1400 GMT) the storm was near the southern city of Guangzhou and forecast to move further inland across Guangdong province at 18 kilometres per hour, Hong Kong Observatory said.

Original article: AFP
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