Page last updated at 05:22 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 06:22 UK

Early typhoon hits southern China

A Chinese rescuer helps families evacuate from their boats in Sanya, southern China's Hainan island, ahead of Typhoon Neoguri, on 18 April 2008
The typhoon season normally starts in May

More than 100,000 people had to be evacuated as Typhoon Neoguri battered China's southern province of Hainan.

The typhoon - the first to threaten China this year - also left 3,000 passengers stranded at an airport after 76 flights were cancelled.

It began lashing Wenchang late on Friday night with winds of up to 108km/h (67 mph), and reports say it caused a black-out in the city.

Neoguri has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

The authorities evacuated about 120,000 people from low-lying areas in the island province of Hainan, and 20,000 boats returned to port.

No deaths have been reported but a number of fishermen are still missing.

Thirty-eight fishermen, who had sought shelter in reefs off Hainan's coast, had been rescued, but another 18 from the same group were still missing, Xinhua news agency said.

The storm is due to hit southern Guangdong province on Saturday afternoon.

The typhoon season usually starts in May.

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