August 2, 2006

Thousands evacuated as storm nears southern China

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Typhoon Prapiroon, which killed six
people and forced thousands to flee their homes in the northern
Philippines, closed in on southern China on Thursday and
thousands have been evacuated ahead of its arrival.

At 0010 GMT, the center of Prapiroon, which means "God of
rain" in Thai, was about 280 km (175 miles) south of Hong Kong
and is forecast to move at about 14 km an hour toward China's
Guangdong province, the Hong Kong observatory said.

Southern China, already hard hit by tropical storms Bilis
and Kaemi, was bracing for Prapiroon, which the central
meteorological office said was expected to make landfall
somewhere between the cities of Taishan and Xuwen as early as
Thursday afternoon.

Rail links between Guangdong and the island province of
Hainan were suspended, and Hainan's fishing fleet was ordered
to return to harbor, Xinhua news agency reported.

The storm was expected to move northwest, hitting the
provinces of Guangxi and Guizhou. A total of 65,000 people in
the four provinces have been evacuated to safer places in
preparation for the storm.

Last month, rainstorms triggered by Kaemi killed more than
30 and left another 60 missing across southern China, just as
the region was recovering from Bilis, which claimed more than
600 lives.

Two port workers were injured in Hong Kong on Tuesday when
strong winds blew over a stack of 12-meter containers, police

(Additional reporting by Lindsay Beck in Beijing)