July 29, 2011 / 7:58 AM / 7 years ago

Transport links suspended as storm bears down on southern China

BEIJING (Reuters) - Tropical storm Nock-Ten began bearing down on the southern Chinese rubber-producing island of Hainan on Friday, forcing the cancellation of dozens of flights, ferries and rail services, state media reported.

The storm has killed at least 41 people and caused more than 1 billion pesos (14.5 million pounds) in infrastructure and crop damage in the Philippines.

Benito Ramos, executive director of the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said 24 people were unaccounted for, most of them fishermen, in the central Philippines.

The storm is expected to make landfall on Hainan’s northeastern coast on Friday evening, and will bring heavy rain to the island, and to neighbouring Guangdong and Guangxi, before moving into Vietnam, China’s weather bureau said.

At least 14 flights from Hainan’s provincial capital Haikou have been cancelled, and the rail-boat ferry service to the mainland has been suspended, the official Xinhua news agency added.

All scenic spots on Hainan, which styles itself as China’s answer to Hawaii or Phuket, have been closed for safety reasons, the report said.

Hainan is the country’s second biggest natural rubber producer.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Sally Huang in Beijing and Manny Mogato in Manila

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