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Typhoon Heads Toward Southern China

August 3, 2006

SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ A typhoon roared toward southern China on Thursday packing winds of up to 80 mph, as authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people from their homes amid warnings of severe destruction.

Typhoon Prapiroon, which killed six people earlier in the Philippines, was expected to make landfall in southern China late Thursday or early Friday. Authorities have evacuated 65,000 people from parts of Guangdong province and the neighboring island province of Hainan, and ferry and railway services have been suspended.

More than 50,000 boats also had been ordered to return to port in Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan provinces, official media reported. Rescue teams throughout the area have been ordered on alert for floods and landslides.

In Hong Kong, hundreds of flights were delayed, canceled or redirected, stranding more than 3,000 passengers. At least one person was injured on Wednesday when empty shipping containers were toppled by high winds at a container terminal in the city.

A cargo vessel and barge also ran aground on islands off the territory’s coast, said Jack Chak, a spokesman for the Government Flying Service. Dozens of crew members were rescued and there were no reports of injuries or deaths.

Prapiroon, named after the Thai rain god, is the region’s eighth major storm of the season.

It comes on the heels of Typhoon Bilis, which sparked floods and landslides that killed more than 600 people in southern China last month, and Typhoon Kaemi, which killed at least 35 people and left dozens missing in southern China last week.

More than 1,460 people have been killed during this year’s typhoon season, which started unusually early. Chinese officials estimate more than 1 million houses have been damaged and millions of acres of farmland and forests destroyed.

Update hourly