Eighteen fishermen remained missing and 38 others had been rescued after typhoon Neoguri approached and hit south China, said local authorities on Saturday morning.
The local fishing office in Hainan Province lost contact with the 56, who were on three boats sheltered at a reef area of the Xisha Archipelago, on Thursday evening when Neoguri approached the region.
All the three boats were damaged and the 38 rescued fishermen swam to reefs and stayed there until being found by a rescue ship, said Zhang Jie, vice director of the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration.
A freighter passing by also joined in the search of the missing fishermen while the administration has dispatched a helicopter in addition to the rescue ship for the task.
Typhoon Neoguri hit land in Hainan on Friday evening, causing economic losses, canceling flights and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
The island's fishing authorities have recalled 80,000 fishermen and 21,800 boats from sea.
Neoguri may land in Guangdong Province Saturday afternoon, according to the central observatory.
(Xinhua News Agency April 19, 2008)