A powerful typhoon slammed into China's Hainan Island yesterday after skirting Hong Kong.

Typhoon Nesat made landfall on the eastern tip of the island at 2:30pm and was packing winds up to 150 kilometers an hour.

The storm blew down trees and flooded streets as it moved across the province.

About 300,000 people have been evacuated across the province with nearly 58,000 of them from low-lying areas in eastern Wenchang City. Flights were canceled at the island's airports.

Hainan authorities closed schools, suspended ferry services and recalled fishing boats as the storm made its way across the South China Sea from the Philippines, where it killed 35 people and left another 45 missing.

The storm had swept past Hong Kong earlier in the day, forcing the stock market to suspend trading and shops and businesses to close but causing little damage. The city's normally bustling streets were eerily quiet, with few people venturing outside to brave the rain and fierce winds.

Two people were injured when bamboo scaffolding was blown over and collapsed onto a taxi, while a man was injured by a falling tree, local broadcaster RTHK said. A barge ripped free from its moorings in the rough seas and slammed into a seawall on Hong Kong Island, forcing some nearby apartments to be evacuated.

Ferry services to Macau were suspended. At Hong Kong's airport, 245 flights were delayed, 20 were canceled and 22 diverted to other airports by 3pm.

The National Meteorological Center reported that fishing boats were in port and schools along the coast had been shut in advance of the typhoon, the 17th to hit China this year.

According to Hainan's meteorological bureau, precipitation in 72 townships in the province exceeded 100 millimeters between 8am and 4pm.

Chen Cheng, vice governor of Hainan, had ordered all fishing boats to return to harbor and fishermen to take shelter ashore.

The storm seriously disrupted local transportation services.

All flights were canceled at the Sanya Phoenix International Airport on Thursday, while 143 flights were canceled and 32 delayed in Haikou Meilan Airport.

Passenger ferry services across the Qiongzhou Strait have been suspended since Wednesday, while railway services stopped yesterday morning.

As a result, vegetables could not be transported from other parts of the country, causing prices to surge. In Haikou, prices of vegetables rose by as much as 33 percent.

SOURCE: Shanghai Daily
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