TENS OF thousands of people were evacuated as a powerful typhoon thundered into southern China on Wednesday after shutting down the bustling Asian financial centre of Hong Kong and sinking a cargo ship.
Packing high winds and torrential rain, Typhoon Utor forced the closure of schools, offices, shopping centres and construction sites in cities along its path northwest across Guangdong province.
More than 60,000 people were evacuated in the city of Maoming alone, while another 98,000 were moved to safety to the south on the island province of Hainan, where 26,000 fishing boats were also ordered to shelter in harbours. Flights and ferry services were suspended on the island, stranding thousands of travellers.
NO IMMEDIATE DAMAGE REPORT
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries on the mainland due to the storm, which was packing sustained gale force winds of 145 kilometres (90 miles) per hour.
In Hong Kong, offices, schools and courts were shut and the stock market halted trading, bringing an eerie calm to the normally busy southern Chinese commercial hub. More than 350 flights were cancelled or delayed and bus and commuter ferry services were curtailed.
Helicopter search-and-rescue teams from Hong Kong and Guangdong province rescued 21 crew members from the Trans Summer, a bulk carrier, after it started listing in waters southwest of Hong Kong, local broadcaster RTHK said. China's official Xinhua News Agency said it was carrying 57,000 tons of nickel ore.