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Typhoon Neoguri Expected to Hit S China on Friday

Typhoon Neoguri, the first to approach south China this year, was 180 kilometers from the southernmost province of Hainan at 5:00 AM on Friday, according to the provincial observatory.

Rail services on ferries cross the Qiongzhou Strait between the island province and Guangdong on the mainland were suspended at 6:45 AM Friday, due to strong gales brought by Neoguri.

The typhoon's center is moving northwestward at 10 km per hour Friday morning, bringing strong winds across a 300-km in radius. It was forecast to land in the coastal area between Sanya and Wenchang cities, Hainan, on Friday night or Saturday morning.

"Neoguri will be the earliest typhoon of the season to affect the south China region since the founding of new China in 1949," said Chen Lei, deputy commander of the State Headquarters of Flood Control and Drought Relief and Minister of Water Resources.

Previously, the earliest record of a typhoon landing on Hainan was on April 28, in 1991, he said.

The headquarters has warned Hainan, Guangdong and Fujian provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to prepare for Neoguri, which is expected to be one of the strongest in history to affect the south China region.

Neoguri is expected to drop 40 to 90 millimeters of rain on Hainan and Guangdong provinces. The heaviest downfall is expected to be 180 millimeters in southern Hainan, according to the provincial observatory.

Neoguri became a tropical cyclone on April 15 in the South China Sea, and strengthened into a typhoon the next day.

The Hainan provincial flood control headquarters has recalled about 21,800 fishing boats to shore on Thursday.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2008)

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