Updated: 07/18/2014 15:05 | By Agence France-Presse

China braces for Super Typhoon Rammasun

China on Friday braced for a powerful super typhoon heading for its southern coast after the storm left a trail of destruction and at least 54 dead in the neighbouring Philippines.

China braces for Super Typhoon Rammasun

Fishing boats are seen berthed in Haikou harbour in China's Hainan province as the country braces for Typhoon Rammasun on July 17, 2014

China's National Meteorological Center (NMC) said an intensifying Super Typhoon Rammasun was on course to hit Hainan island and Guangdong province late in the afternoon.

The outer bands of the storm lashed Hong Kong overnight with heavy rain and strong winds, but the city was spared a direct hit as the typhoon tracked west towards Hainan.

Packing winds Friday afternoon of up to 216 kilometres (134 miles) an hour, the super typhoon was expected to bring torrential rains, the NMC said.

China's official news agency Xinhua said Rammasun was expected to be the strongest typhoon to hit Hainan in 40 years.

Late on Thursday, the NMC issued its highest "red alert" for the storm, the first such declaration this year, according to Xinhua.

State-run China Central Television showed images of wind-whipped trees in Hainan and high waves churned up by the typhoon.

More than 26,000 residents in the areas close to where the typhoon is expected to land were evacuated, Xinhua said, citing Hainan disaster authorities.

Meanwhile, Hainan provincial tourism authorities ordered all resorts to shut down and tour bus operators to cease operations from early Friday afternoon until about midafternoon on Saturday, Xinhua said.

Earlier, Rammasun -- a Thai word for "Thunder God" -- hit the Philippines, slamming the capital Manila and killing at least 54 people, with 100 others injured and three still missing, according to the country's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The typhoon made landfall on the main island of Luzon on Tuesday, where it destroyed or damaged more than 26,000 homes while cutting electricity supplies to nearly all of Manila and surrounding urban areas.

The regional utility, Manila Electric Co., said about 11.5 percent of the capital, a megacity of more than 12 million people, remained without power Friday but it promised to restore supplies to the entire city later in the day.

The Philippines is often the first major landmass to be struck after storms build above the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Rammasun was the first typhoon to make landfall in the Philippines since this year's rainy season began in June, and the first major storm since Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the eastern islands of Samar and Leyte last November.

Haiyan killed up to 7,300 people in one of the Philippines' worst natural disasters.

In China, the typhoon comes after dozens of people died in the past week when heavy rain battered swathes of the country, with at least six killed by lightning, thousands of homes destroyed and more than 300,000 evacuated, state media have reported.

The rains have killed 10 people and left another 10 missing in the southwestern province of Guizhou, where 122,400 people were evacuated, Xinhua said citing local authorities.

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