BEIJING / MANILA –A typhoon heading toward southern China has strengthened as it approaches the provinces of Hainan and Guangdong and is now a super typhoon, the government said on Friday, ordering that all efforts be made to prevent loss of life.
Typhoon Rammasun, which has already killed dozens of people in the Philippines, is expected to make landfall between Hainan and Guangdong provinces on Friday afternoon, the National Meteorological CenteR said on its website.
Packing winds of up to 180 kmph (112 mph), it will also bring heavy rains before moving into southwestern China, state news agency Xinhua added, saying the typhoon would be the strongest to hit the island of Hainan in 40 years.
The Hainan government said it had ordered fishermen back to port while many flights, and all train services, were canceled.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang, describing the situation as severe, said people’s lives must be put first, the Hainan government added.
On Thursday, the Philippines set to work clearing debris, reconnecting power and rebuilding flattened houses after Typhoon Rammasun swept across the country, killing 38 people, with at least eight missing, rescue officials said.
The strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, the typhoon shut down the capital and knocked down trees and power lines, while causing widespread blackouts.
The storm destroyed about 7,000 houses and damaged 19,000, the executive director of the National Disaster Agency, Alexander Pama, said. More than 530,000 people had taken refuge in evacuation centers, according to official figures.
Pama put the damage to crops, mostly rice and corn, from the Bicol region, southeast of Manila and the first to be hit by the storm, at around 668 million pesos, or about $15 million.
Most schools remained closed in the capital and southern Luzon, the most densely populated part of the country with about 17 million people. Power had been restored to just over half of the Luzon grid, a transmission agency official said.
Electricity distributor Manila Electric Co said a third of its 1.88 million customers were without power.
Disaster officials were assessing damage but the coconut-growing Quezon province south of Manila appears to have borne the brunt of Rammasun, which intensified into a category 3 typhoon as it crossed the country.
Pama said on Wednesday the government was more prepared after the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November, evacuating people at risk in coastal and landslide-prone areas well before the typhoon made landfall.
Parts of the Philippines are still recovering from Haiyan, one of the biggest cyclones known to have made landfall anywhere. It killed more than 6,100 in the central provinces, many in tsunami-like sea surges, and left millions homeless.
Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China Sea, picking up strength from the warm waters and dissipating over land.
Flooding across a large swathe of southern China in the past week has already killed at least 34 people.
Reporting by Reuters reporters Rosemarie Francisco in Manila, and Ben Blanchard and Hui Li in Beijing.