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Another Killer Typhoon Heading for South China
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With threat from Typhoon Prapiroon, south China's island province Hainan on Wednesday suspended all passenger ferry services across the Qiongzhou Strait linking the island with the inland area.

At 4:30 PM on Wednesday, the ferry service begun to suspend and some 350 boats for ferry services entered typhoon-proof berths in the port of Haikou, capital of Hainan Province.

Meanwhile, Chinese railway authorities have suspended Thursday's service from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, to the island province of Hainan for safety reasons.

In addition, all fishing vessels in Hainan have been ordered to return to harbor.

The provincial fishery department said Wednesday that most vessels were safe in port. More than 200 vessels were moored at harbors in Sanya and Yulin on Wednesday, a fishery official at Sanya said.

If the storm continues to gain strength, the vessels at Sanya harbor would leave for the better shelter at Yulin harbor, the official added.

Prapiroon was expected to affect Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou, bringing 100 to 180 millimeters of rain, said Wang Bangzhong, an official with the Chinese Central Meteorological Station.

Wang predicted August would see another five or six tropical storms form in the seas around south China Sea, but only two or three might make landfall.

Prapiroon killed five people when it crossed the northern Philippines earlier in the week.

Hainan and Guangdong Provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, all in south China, have relocated 65,000 people and recalled 53,200 vessels to harbor by Wednesday noon.

Prapiroon, which means Rain God in Thai, formed in the South China Sea and strengthened into a typhoon on Wednesday noon. It is expected to lash south China for three or four days, according to the Chinese Central Meteorological Station.

At 5:00 PM Wednesday, it was located at 19.3 degrees north and 114.1 degrees east, 340 kilometers from Guangdong's Yangjiang city. It is packing winds of up to 119 kilometers per hour as it moved northwestward at 15 to 20 kilometers per hour.

China was being hit with more typhoons and tropical rainstorms this year in part due to the warming ocean current in the northwest Pacific and high temperatures in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, said Wang.

The year's first typhoon, Chanchu, hit on May 18, at least 40 days earlier than most years. Prapiroon is the sixth typhoon to hit China.

The fifth typhoon, Kaemi, in late July claimed 35 lives, including six at a military barracks in east China's Jiangxi Province.

The forth typhoon, Bilis, lashed south and east China and claimed 612 lives in southern China in mid July.

(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2006)

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