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China: Hainan: Typhoon Sarika makes landfall

HAIKOU, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — Typhoon Sarika, the 21st typhoon of the year, made landfall at south China’s Hainan Tuesday morning as torrential rain and gales lashed the island province.

The tropical cyclone, packing maximum winds of 162 km per hour at its eye, landed at Hele Town, Wanning City, at 9:50 a.m., according to the local meteorological bureau.

Xinhua reporters saw waves surge and trees fall from the storm in coastal Wanning. The municipal authorities said more than 13,700 residents in low-lying areas or unsafe houses have been evacuated.

At the island’s main civil airport, Meilan International Airport in the provincial capital Haikou City, 250 flights were canceled on Tuesday morning, authorities said, and normal operations are expected to resume late Tuesday afternoon.

Services of high speed trains were halted starting Monday.

Local traffic police reported that gales and wet roads caused a passenger bus carrying 45 people on board to overturn on one of Hainan’s major highways Monday night. Fortunately, there were no casualties.

Provincial meteorological bureau chief Cai Qinbo previously predicted losses from the typhoon to be “grave,” as the cyclone was projected to be the most powerful and destructive to land in Hainan in a decade.

Classes have been suspended in kindergartens, middle and primary schools in eight counties in the province and tourist sites are closed to the public. Residents and tourists have been warned against hiking or strolling along the beaches.

Authorities have also ordered safety checks of reservoirs and power and water supplies, while demanding the fishery and farming sectors take precautions.