Typhoon gathers fury as it approaches China

Last updated 18:30 18/07/2014

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A typhoon heading toward southern China has strengthened as it approaches the provinces of Hainan and Guangdong and is now a super typhoon, the government said on Friday, ordering that all efforts be made to prevent loss of life.

Typhoon Rammasun, which has already killed at least 54 people in the Philippines, is expected to make landfall between the two provinces on Friday afternoon, the National Meteorological Center said on its website.

Packing winds of up to 180 kmph (112 mph), it will also bring heavy rains before moving into southwestern China, state news agency Xinhua added, saying the typhoon would be the strongest to hit the island of Hainan in 40 years.

The Hainan government said it had ordered fishermen back to port while many flights, and all train services, were canceled.

State television said access to all scenic spots on the island, which styles itself as China's answer to Hawaii, had been closed, and 30,000 people evacuated from low-lying coastal areas.

Premier Li Keqiang, describing the situation as severe, said people's lives must be put first, the Hainan government added.

"Prevent any accidents that may be caused (by the typhoon) and reduce disaster losses as much as possible," it cited Li as saying.

Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China Sea, picking up strength from the warm waters and dissipating over land.

Flooding across a large swathe of southern China in the past week has already killed at least 34 people.

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