Typhoon Lands in China as Hong Kong Shuts Down

(AP) Typhoon lands in China as Hong Kong shuts down
BEIJING
Schools and offices closed and tens of thousands of fishing craft took shelter on Wednesday as a typhoon brought high winds and torrential rain to southern China.

Typhoon Utor had already closed down the bustling Asian financial center of Hong Kong before making landfall farther south in Guangdong province on Wednesday afternoon.

Classes were canceled in Zhanjiang and other cities along the storm's path, while shopping centers closed, construction sites shut down, and office workers were sent home.

Authorities recalled fishing boats to port, with 26,000 alone taking shelter on the island province of Hainan further south. Flights and ferry service were suspended on the island, stranding thousands of travelers.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries on the mainland due to the storm, which was packing sustained gale force winds of 145 kph (90 mph).

In Hong Kong, offices, schools and courts were shut and the stock market halted trading, bringing an eerie calm to the normally busy southern Chinese commercial hub. More than 350 flights were canceled or delayed and bus and commuter ferry services were curtailed.

Six people in Hong Kong were reported injured. Strong winds blew down 21 trees, but otherwise the city emerged largely unscathed.

Utor was this year's strongest typhoon globally before it crossed the Philippines earlier this week, leaving at least seven people dead and four missing. One woman in northeastern Isabela province was seen on camera being swept away by a raging river. Her body was found later.

Dozens of fishermen were missing after the storm but most have since returned home, officials said.

Rescuers were still struggling to reach at least three isolated towns in the hardest-hit Aurora province, where the typhoon slammed ashore.

"As of now, we don't have communication (with the three towns) and the roads are not passable, even to motorcycles, due to landslides, rockslides, and uprooted trees," said Rey Balido, spokesman for the national disaster agency. He said authorities were taking alternate routes and that the Philippine air force will deliver relief goods.

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Associated Press writers Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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