Typhoon heads to China after hitting Philippines
HONG KONG (AP) — Residents of Hong Kong braced themselves Thursday for the arrival of a powerful typhoon that brought death and destruction when it tore through the Philippines earlier this week.
Hong Kong's stock market closed Thursday and shops and businesses shuttered as Typhoon Nesat made its way across the South China Sea from the Philippines, where the storm killed 35 people and that left another 45 missing.
The typhoon is expected to shirt just south of Hong Kong and reach China's island region of Hainan and Guangdong province Thursday afternoon or evening, according to the Hainan Meteorological Bureau.
Ferry services in Hainan were halted and the province prepared for possible flooding and mudslides, the bureau reported.
The National Meteorological Center reported that fishing boats were in port and schools along the coast had been shut in advance of the typhoon, which is the 17th and likely the strongest to hit Hainan this year.
Nesat left devastation in the Philippines, triggering some of the worst flooding in downtown Manila in decades, before blowing out toward southern China with winds of 75 mph (120 kph).
Floodwaters were receding in most places, but many low-lying communities in the north remained in crisis.
Mayor Santiago Austria of the rice-farming town of Jaen in Nueva Ecija province appealed to the government for help, saying many people in his community of 63,000 needed to be rescued but that officials there had only four rescue boats.
"Many people here are still on top of their houses. We don't have enough boats to reach them and hand them food," Austria said.
In all, nearly 500,000 people were affected by the typhoon in the northern Philippines, of which about 170,000 were forced to flee their homes and were in various evacuation centers. The government says damage to farms and infrastructure is estimated at 1.15 billion pesos ($26 million).
Meanwhile, a fresh tropical storm was brewing in the Pacific, Philippine government forecaster Bobby Javier said, adding that it already had sustained winds of 52 mph (85 kph) and gusts up to 62 mph (100 kph) and was expected to strengthen significantly before hitting major parts of the country in the next few days.
Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.