Gale-force winds and heavy rains lashed coastal areas along the Qiongzhou Strait on Monday, as this year's 14th tropical storm, Francisco, made landfall at noon in Hainan Province.
Local flood-control and drought-relief offices in Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi and Fujian provinces are all keeping a close eye on the development of the storm, as it is expected to bring more heavy rain to western coastal areas of south China.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, the storm has already caused a fishing boat with eight people on board to capsize. Two people have so far been rescued, but six are still missing.
The tropical storm, with winds of nearly 72kph at its center, landed in Wenchang on the island province of Hainan at 12:30 yesterday. It was expected to move westward and arrive in the Beibu Bay area last night.
Lu Shan, a chief forecaster with the Guangdong weather bureau, said: "Francisco is expected to affect the western costal area in Guangdong greatly, bringing heavy rainfall in the days to come."
There will be no moon to see at this year's Mid-Autumn Festival that falls today, he said.
All shipping services in the Qiongzhou Strait, situated between Guangdong and Hainan provinces, were called off at 7 am yesterday.
As of 10 am yesterday, some 58,700 ships were recalled before the storm arrived. In Guangdong alone, 16,933 ships were called back.
The China Central Meteorological Office said areas around the north-central South China Sea, Beibu Bay and the coasts of Hainan, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces all face high winds of up to force nine on the Beaufort scale.
In addition, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters yesterday dispatched a working group to Hainan to coordinate efforts with local authorities to fight the tropical storm.
And officials from the Guangdong flood-control office yesterday called for more efforts to stay alerts to upcoming heavy rains, as a large number of water facilities on the Leizhou Peninsula, which were badly damaged last month by Typhoon Pabuk, have not yet been repaired.
(China Daily September 26, 2007)