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Typhoon Chanchu: 630,000 Evacuated in Guangdong, Fujian
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About 630,000 people were evacuated from the coastal regions of Guangdong and Fujian provinces on Wednesday as the strongest typhoon on record to blow over the South China Sea this month bore down on the south coast.


In Guangdong, nearly 327,000 residents have been moved from the coast and more than 51,000 ships returned to harbor.


In Fujian, more than 307,000 people have been evacuated from coastal areas and 42,000 ships recalled.


In Xiamen in Fujian, 26 flights have been cancelled, most of which were heading for other coastal cities and Hong Kong. Passenger ferry services to Jinmen have been suspended until Thursday.


The Xiamen Tourism Bureau has ordered all tourist sites to be closed from Wednesday to Friday.


China Eastern Airlines, headquartered in Shanghai, on Wednesday cancelled 38 flights headed for Hong Kong and Shenzhen, a coastal city in Guangdong.


Chanchu, which is packing winds of around 144 kilometers per hour (kph), has already brought gale-force winds to Fujian's southern coastal areas and heavy rainstorms in the west. Many localities have reported landslides and flooding, according to the Fujian meteorological bureau.


Rainstorms also hit the city of Shantou, one of the sites along the southern coastline that the typhoon might hit, and a number of other localities in Guangdong with rainfall ranging between 20 and 210 mm.


After lashing Hong Kong on Wednesday, the typhoon, which is packing the strongest winds in the South China Sea this month, continues to move northeastward at around 20kph.


It is expected to hit the Chinese mainland along the coastal areas between Guangdong and Fujian Wednesday night or Thursday morning, according to the Fujian bureau.


The typhoon forced Hong Kong to suspend air, sea and land travel.


The Hong Kong Airport Authority said that 52 incoming and outgoing flights have been canceled and eight delayed. Most of them were on route to cities on the Chinese mainland.


Chanchu, which means "pearl" in Cantonese, formed in the Pacific, about 550 km east of Mindanao Island in the Philippines on May 9. It hit central Philippines on Saturday, killing at least 37 people and leaving more than 1,000 others homeless.


(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2006)

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