400,000 People Moved Away from Prapiroon
As Typhoon Prapiroon nears China, 406,343 people have been moved to safety in the southern provinces of Hainan and Guangdong and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Thursday that 62,023 vessels from Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi had returned to harbor as Prapiroon was approaching faster than previously forecast.
Guangdong has suspended all passenger railway services across the Qiongzhou Strait to the island province of Hainan.
The Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Station forecast Prapiroon would strike the coastal area between Taishan City and Xuwen County in Guangdong from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, packing heavy rains and strong winds.
The autonomous region of Guangxi, west of Guangdong, is also on high alert as Prapiroon is expected to be the first typhoon to hit the area since 2003.
Its capital, Nanning, had already suffered thunderstorms and strong winds on Wednesday evening. More than 84,000 people in Guangxi were relocated.
Prapiroon is within 300 kilometers of the coast of western Guangdong. Its winds are reaching 12 degrees on the Beaufort Scale near its center.
It is forecast to move westward at 15 kilometers per hour in the next 24 hours and will gain strength.
Heavy rains hit most parts of Guangdong from Wednesday and the typhoon will bring rainstorms to western Guangdong and nearby areas from Thursday to Saturday. The typhoon will also bring force 9-12 gales to sea areas and to coastal areas of western Guangdong.
The Guangdong provincial observatory called on government departments to prepare for high waves, landslides, mountain torrents, mud and rock flows, collapsing buildings and flooding.
Local railway authorities said railway services could be only resumed when the conditions improved.
Prapiroon was expected to bring 100 to 180 millimeters of rain to Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou, said Wang Bangzhong, of the Chinese Central Meteorological Station.
Wang said August could see another five or six tropical storms form in the South China Sea area, but only two or three might make landfall.
Prapiroon killed at least five people when it crossed the northern Philippines earlier in the week.
Prapiroon, which means Rain God in Thai, formed in the South China Sea and strengthened into a typhoon on Wednesday. It is expected to hit south China for three or four days, according to the Chinese Central Meteorological Station.
Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Wednesday ordered meteorological agencies to maintain their alert status and ensure timely warnings as they monitored the storm.
Hui, also head of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, called for vessels to return to harbor and measures to ensure safety of people in the storm's path.
China was being hit with more typhoons and tropical rainstorms this year partly due to the warming ocean current in the northwest Pacific and high temperatures in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, said Wang.
The year's first typhoon, Chanchu, hit on May 18, at least 40 days earlier than most years. Prapiroon is the sixth typhoon to hit China.
The fifth typhoon, Kaemi, in late July claimed 35 lives, including six at a military barracks in east China's Jiangxi Province.
The fourth typhoon, Bilis, lashed south and east China and claimed 612 lives in southern China in mid July.