China today issued a red alert and evacuated half a million people as Typhoon Sarika hit south China's Hainan, leading to cancellation of hundreds of flights in the island province. The tropical cyclone, packing maximum winds of 162 km per hour at its eye, landed at Hele Town, Wanning City at 9:50 am, according to the local meteorological bureau. The National Meteorological Centre issued a red alert, its highest-level alert, for Sarika, the 21st typhoon of the year named after a singing bird in Cambodia, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Nearly half a million people, including fishermen and residents in low-lying areas and unsafe houses in Hainan have been evacuated so far, Ding Sheng, a disaster relief official with the Hainan Civil Affairs Department said. The department has provided relief materials such as tents and quilts, food and water to the typhoon-affected areas, he said. Hundreds of trees were uprooted due to the storm in coastal Wanning. The municipal authorities said more than 1,37,000 residents have been evacuated, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. At the island's main civil airport, Meilan International Airport in the provincial capital Haikou City, 250 flights were canceled this morning, authorities said. High speed train services have also been halted. Local traffic police reported that gales and wet roads caused a passenger bus carrying 45 people to overturn on one of Hainan's major highways last night. However, there were no casualties. Over 30 cattle belonging to a farmer in Dongxing village in Wanning, where the storm landed, were found electrocuted this morning after a high-voltage line above the animals' shed broke down. Provincial meteorological station chief Cai Qinbo previously predicted that losses from the typhoon would be "grave", as the cyclone was projected to be the most powerful and destructive to land in Hainan in a decade. About 97 townships in Hainan reported precipitation of more than 100 mm.
Three townships in Wanning, Qiongzhong and Wenchang received more than 300 mm of rainfall, according to the provincial meteorological station. Classes have been suspended in kindergartens, middle and primary schools in eight counties in the province, and tourist sites are closed to the public. Residents and tourists have been warned against hiking or strolling along the beaches. Authorities have also ordered safety checks of reservoirs and power and water supplies, while demanding the fishery and farming sectors take precautions. To brace for Sarika, some coastal scenic spots in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were closed today. Nearly 8,000 tourists from Weizhou Island were evacuated yesterday.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)