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Tropical storm Francisco makes landfall in south China's Hainan, five still missing
2007-09-24 09:02:01 Xinhua English

HAIKOU, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Five fishermen are missing after tropical storm Francisco struck south China's Hainan Province on Monday.

The fishing vessel, with eight crew on board, was caught up in the storm early in the day, said a spokesman with Hainan Provincial Maritime Emergency Search and Rescue Center.

The tropical storm, the 14th to hit China this year, capsized the boat 45 miles out to sea in the early hours of Monday as it tried to return to the port of Haikou, said Zhang Jie, deputy director of Hainan Provincial Maritime Affairs Bureau.

Two of the eight fishermen, all residents of Danzhou in western Hainan, were found near Hainanjiao, east of Haikou, at midday on Monday.

The third rescued man was found around 3:00 p.m. He said the boat was sunk and the others were washed away.

The search for the remaining five is continuing, but it has been hindered by the dark and strong winds.

Meanwhile, a vessel loaded with liquefied petroleum gas was stranded at midday near Lingao County, Hainan, said the South Sea Rescue Team.

The vessel "Offshore Oil 881", with 21 on board, belonged to Zhanjiang Branch Company of China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

A helicopter was sent to the site about 2:00 p.m. and all 21 crew members were rescued after two hours.

The storm also suspended the land transport after it landed at Changfa Township in Wenchang County at 12:30 p.m., packing up winds of 72 km per hour and bringing torrential rains.

The rail ferry service linking Hainan Island with the mainland was suspended and trains scheduled at 4:50 p.m. from Sanya to Shanghai and to Guangzhou were cancelled.

The four local governments of Hainan, Guangdong and Fujian provinces, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region all issued circulars ordering all fishing boats and ships to return to land.

The flood control bureau issued a level four warning (with level one as the strongest) at 10 a.m. Monday and dispatched a four-member team to Hainan to guide the province's efforts in fighting the storm.

Francisco formed on Saturday night over the South China Sea and intensified into a tropical storm on Sunday morning.

Moving at 15 km to 20 km per hour northwestward, Francisco is expected to reach the northern Beibu Gulf, in Guangxi, on Monday night.

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