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Typhoon Prapiroon Hits Guangdong
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Gale force winds and heavy rainstorms lashed western Guangdong Province last night as Typhoon Prapiroon made landfall.

Prapiroon, the name means 'god of rain' in Thai, came inland between Yangjiang and Dianbai at 7:20 PM with winds of up to gale force 12.

More than a quarter of a million people were evacuated from the area, which has been battered by successive typhoons over the summer, and 40,000 ships were called back into Guangdong's harbors.

Sources with the Guangdong provincial flood control and drought relief office said emergency measures had been put in place before the typhoon's arrival with ships recalled by noon yesterday. Prapiroon is expected to hit the province even more ferociously than previous typhoons this year.

The office, together with the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, sent two special working groups early yesterday morning to deal with possible natural disasters triggered by Prapiroon.

Heavy rain and strong winds are expected to continue to hit the Pearl River Delta region after Prapiroon moves on. It's thought the typhoon will head northwest to the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region this morning, Lin Liangxun, chief forecaster of the Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Bureau said in an interview with China Daily.

Ahead of Prapiroon's arrival, Guangdong and the neighboring Hong Kong and Macao regions experienced heavy rain and strong winds since Wednesday night.

"The rains in the western part of the Pearl River Delta region are expected to last until Saturday," said Lin.

In provincial capital Guangzhou, heavy rain, whipped up by gale force eight winds, started falling yesterday afternoon causing rush hour traffic jams in most urban areas.

At least 19 flights to and from Hong Kong were grounded as of 2:00 PM yesterday because of the heavy rain, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Ships between Hong Kong, Macao and Shenzhen and trains running from Hong Kong and Shenzhen were also cancelled.

In Macao, which got rainstorms yesterday morning, most businesses and schools were forced to close for the day. Macao, which neighbors Zhuhai in western Guangdong, has opened three temporary shelters for those affected.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has urged relevant local government organizations to remain alert over Prapiroon as the country has already been hit hard this year by five devastating typhoons.

Two previous typhoons, Billis and Kaemi, which landed in south China last month, killed more than 600 people and brought about huge economic losses.

It's predicted that five or six more tropical storms will form around the South China Sea this month with two or possibly three making landfall, said Lin.

(China Daily August 4, 2006)

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