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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Typhoon batters southern Asia
Imbudo over the Philippines, as seen from space
Imbudo over the Philippines, as seen from space
One of the strongest typhoons in years has hit China's southern coastal province of Guangdong and Vietnam after blasting the Philippines and buffeting Hong Kong.

Typhoon Imbudo killed at least 10 people and destroyed millions of dollars' worth of crops in the Philippines this week.

Hong Kong got off lightly by comparison with 11 people injured overnight before the storm carried on towards the Chinese mainland.

Thousands of people were evacuated and emergency measures put in place in Guangdong, a large oil-refining and petrochemical centre, as 185 kilometres per hour (115 mph) winds pummelled the province.

A doctor at Yingjiang Hospital, in the Guangdong province, told the French news agency AFP that several dozen people had been admitted with injuries caused by the typhoon.

I thought there was an earthquake
Annalyn Valdez
Philippine housewife
"It's less than 100, but many," she said.

"Most are only slight wounds but some are serious with head injuries. There have been no deaths so far."

However, three people were feared dead in Luoding city and 6,000 chickens were believed pelted to death after violent tornadoes and hail storms, whipped up ahead of Imbudo, tore off awning at a chicken farm.

In the island province of Hainan, ships were called back to port and more than 2,000 air passengers were delayed as 32 flights were cancelled. Chinese media said 42 reservoirs were also on alert.

In an 11-hour overnight mission, helicopter rescue teams from Hong Kong snatched 16 Chinese sailors to safety after their ship lost its rudder in the storm in Daya Bay, east of the territory.

The vessel pitched wildly at sea as waves rose as high as 10 metres (33 feet) and winds reached 115 km/h (72 mph).

Worst in five years

Officials in the Philippines said at least 10 people were killed and 20 injured when Imbudo - which means "funnel" in Tagalog - swept through on Tuesday.

Battered telegraph poles in Isabela province, northern Philippines
Some reports put the Philippine death toll closer to 20
Most of the victims were swept away by flash floods or crushed by landslides and fallen trees, and thousands of people remained in government evacuation centres on Thursday.

It was the most powerful typhoon to hit the islands in five years, and mainly affected the island of Luzon.

"I thought there was an earthquake," housewife Annalyn Valdez told Reuters news agency in the town of Cordon in the northern province of Isabela.

"When I looked out my window, I saw an uprooted acacia tree."

Hong Kong announced the all-clear at 0815 (0015 GMT) on Thursday after a stormy night, although strong winds and heavy squalls were expected off and on throughout the day.

On Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair cut short a visit to the territory on weather advice from the pilots due to fly him back to Britain.

In Vietnam, weather forecasters are predicting high winds and rough seas for Halong Bay, off the northern coast, which is a world heritage site and tourist magnet.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tory Milne reports
"Direct hits are rare"



SEE ALSO:
Nature's lethal weapons
18 Sep 00  |  Science/Nature
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23 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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