Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ferry service suspends as Higos moves inland in south China

Ferry service on Qiongzhou Strait in south China was suspended as of 5 p.m. on Friday as Higos, the 17th tropical storm of the year, neared landfall.

Authorities in two airports in Hainan Province, Meilan International Airport in Haikou, the provincial capital, and Fenghuang International Airport in Sanya, a seaside resort on the southern tip of the island, however, said arrivals and departures at their respective airports were not affected for the time being.

In total, 24,115 fishing boats in the province had returned to port and coastal fisheries staff had gone home. All recreational sporting activities on the air or sea were also suspended on Friday, said Lin Mingzhong, Hainan Provincial Office for Flood, Wind and Drought Control deputy director.

He predicted Higos would have minor impact on the island as the rainfall was expected to be around 100 mm. It was likely to affect some small reservoirs as their current water level was high.

The local weather observatory issued a forecast for dangerous weather at 5 p.m., saying the eye of the storm was monitored at 18.4 degrees north latitude and 111.2 degrees east longitude at 3 p.m.. It was offshore about 130 km to the southeast of Wenchang City on the east coast of Hainan and packing wind of up to force 8.

The forecast said Higos was moving northwestward at a speed of 20 km per hour and would make landfall anywhere on the eastern coast from Wenchang, Qionghai to Wanning or shave the area and approach western Guangdong Provinces on Friday night.

Affected by Higos, the sea off the east coast of Hainan, the Qiongzhou Strait and Beibu Gulf, as well as off of Sanya, Ledong and Danzhou, plus ports in these places, would get strong wind beginning on Friday night through to Sunday.

In addition, all of Hainan would experience torrential rain from Friday night to Saturday daytime. The temperature there would hover around 22 degrees Celsius to 31 degrees.

The National Meteorological Center on Friday issued an orange alert, the second highest warning, warning vessels to take shelter in ports. It urged local authorities to prepare for emergencies with the upcoming strong wind and rainstorms.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also activated a third degree emergency response on Friday to warn of possible flooding.

Higos was formed on Tuesday in the Pacific Ocean, coming on the heels of storms Jangmi and Hagupit, which combined had killed about 20 people in China.

Qiongzhou Strait separates Hainan from the Chinese mainland. Apart from flights, ferry services on Qiongzhou Strait are the only way to access Hainan Island.

Source: Xinhua

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