Typhoon Utor slams mainland after causing mayhem at sea

Massive waves sink cargo ship and disrupt transport as typhoon hits Guangdong and Hainan on path similar to destructive Hagupit in '08

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 4:38pm

Guangdong and Hainan were on high alert yesterday for Typhoon Utor, which made landfall as the strongest storm to hit the provinces since 2008.

Utor, the seventh named storm to hit the mainland this year, struck Yangxi county in Yangjiang , Guangdong, shortly before 4pm and seemed to be on a similar path as Typhoon Hagupit, which made landfall five years ago in Maoming and left 22 people dead in the province.

Before Utor's arrival, more than 158,000 people in the two provinces were evacuated , Xinhua reported. Two-thirds were in Hainan; most of the rest were in Maoming.

Waves between six and nine metres tall - the biggest in 50 years - were spotted off Guangdong's coast, prompting the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre yesterday to issue a red alert for waves, the most severe warning.

Seas of up to 15 metres were blamed for sinking a 190-metre cargo ship from Hong Kong off the Wanshan Archipelago, which sits between Hong Kong and Macau and is administered by Zhuhai . All 21 crew were rescued from the Trans Summer by Hong Kong's Government Flying Service and a mainland vessel.

Video:Chinese crew rescued from ship sinking in typhoon

More than 47,600 vessels were called back to port in Guangdong, China News Service reports. Nearly 27,000 vessels returned to port in Hainan.

In Zhanjiang , Guangdong, construction sites and shops were told to stop operating, while primary and middle schools cancelled class.

Transport services in both provinces had been disrupted since Tuesday.

All train services between Haikou and Guangzhou were cancelled, and water levels in reservoirs were lowered in case of flooding. At Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, seven flights to Hainan were cancelled.

For the first time, the cross-border checkpoints at Shenzhen Bay closed, while the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor, known as the Shenzhen Bay Bridge, was closed.

Maoming authorities reported that 820 tourists had been evacuated from Fangji Island.

Guangdong's Disaster Relief Commission issued urgent notices on Monday to civil affairs departments in regions along the coast, ordering them to prepare for rescue and relief operations.