SHANGHAI, China – Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated in southern China as Typhoon Prapiroon slammed into the mainland on Thursday, pounding an area already battered by storms with more heavy rains and winds, state media said.
Prapiroon made landfall at 7:20 p.m. along a stretch of coastal Guangdong province, including the cities of Yangjiang and Dianbai, the Xinhua News Agency said. It said the storm was moving inland northwest at a speed of 9 to 12 mph.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
State television showed raincoat-clad reporters braving downpours and gusts of wind that bent trees and whipped up huge waves along Guangdong's coast.
Stormy weather was forecast from Thursday to Saturday for the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Hainan, China's southernmost island and a popular tourist destination.
The area was lashed last month by Tropical Storm Bilis, which killed more than 600 people in flooding and landslides.
Authorities evacuated about 400,000 residents in low-lying areas of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan, which lies about 370 miles southwest of Hong Kong in the South China Sea, Xinhua said. Ferry and railway services linking Hainan to the mainland were also suspended.
Some 84,000 people were forced to flee their homes in Guangxi, Xinhua said. It didn't give a breakdown of the evacuations in Guangdong and Hainan.
A total of 62,023 fishing boats and other vessels returned to port in the three provinces, Xinhua said. Rescue teams were ordered to be on alert for possible floods and landslides.
Prapiroon, which killed six people in the Philippines, is "as strong, if not stronger" than Bilis, said Gao Shuanzhu, a senior official at the China's national observatory, according to Xinhua.
In Hong Kong, at least one person was reported injured on Wednesday when empty shipping containers were toppled by high winds at a container terminal.
In separate incidents, a cargo vessel and barge ran aground on islands off the territory's coast amid the storm, a spokesman from the Government Flying Service said Thursday. Dozens of crew members were rescued and there were no reports of injuries or deaths, spokesman Jack Chak said.
By 6:00 p.m. Thursday, 130 flights had been delayed, 143 canceled and 66 redirected, Hong Kong's airport reported. Ferry services were suspended.
Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong's biggest airline, said it canceled the arrival and departure of all flights in Hong Kong until 9 a.m. Friday because of excessive winds.
Philippine authorities said two other people were missing following lightning storms and flooding caused by Prapiroon, which struck the country as a tropical storm. About 15,000 others were evacuated as parts of the northern Philippines remained inundated.
This year's typhoon season in China started unusually early and storms have already killed more than 1,460 people, mainly in the densely populated southeastern provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and Jiangxi.
Chinese officials estimate more than 1 million houses have been damaged and millions of acres of farmland and forests destroyed.
Prapiroon, named after the Thai rain god, is the region's eighth major storm of the season. It comes in the wake of last week's Typhoon Kaemi, which killed at least 35 people in China and left dozens missing in flooding and landslides.
Also Thursday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued a $4.8 million appeal to provide food, tents, and quilts for 240,000 people left homeless by floods unleashed by typhoon downpours.