Typhoon Nesat, Strongest to Hit China This Year, Strikes Hainan

Typhoon Nesat, the strongest to hit China this year, made landfall on the tropical province of Hainan after having forced Hong Kong to close financial markets, schools and government offices when it passed by the city earlier today.

The storm made landfall in the township of Wengtian in Wenchang city at 2:30 p.m. local time with winds moving as fast as 150 kilometers per hour, the China Meteorological Administration said in an e-mailed statement today. Nesat is the strongest typhoon to hit the island province of Hainan in six years, it said. Local authorities evacuated about 58,000 people, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Hong Kong raised its highest storm warning in two years this morning as Typhoon Nesat swept past the city, clearing streets in the financial district and prompting Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. to cancel equities and futures trading for the day. The storm killed at least 35 people when it struck the Philippines earlier this week and may continue past Hainan to hit Vietnam by Oct. 1.

All flights and high-speed railway services to the resort city of Sanya in Hainan were canceled ahead of Typhoon Nesat, Xinhua reported. The provincial government has ordered all departments, including fire, police and transportation to take measures that help ensure minimum impact from the storm, according to a statement posted to its website. Sanya’s tourism department also ordered a halt of all activities on the sea.

National Holiday

The storm is striking two days before the country’s weeklong National Day holiday begins on Oct. 1. China this year introduced tax-free shopping in Hainan as part of efforts to boost the province’s tourism industry. Revenue from tourism may climb almost sixfold to 124 billion yuan by 2020 from 2009, according to government estimates.

Hainan is China’s fourth-smallest provincial economy.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Sanya closed all its outdoor services earlier today and notified customers of possible evacuations, Xu Xiaoying, a public relations manager for the location, said by telephone today. The hotel’s occupancy rate for National Day holiday is at about 80 percent and hasn’t been affected as the storm is forecast to have cleared by Oct. 1, Xu said before the typhoon made landfall.

In addition to Hainan, Nesat is also forecast to cause downpours in provinces including Guangxi, Hunan and Jiangxi in the 24 hours to 2 p.m. local time tomorrow, according to the Chinese weather agency. Parts of Guangdong and Hainan may suffer “torrential rains,” it said.

— With assistance by John Liu

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