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A woman walks on the beach of Qinglan port as strong wind tears her umbrella apart in Wenchang, south China's Hainan province, on Friday. / AFP/Getty Images

BEIJING - Super Typhoon Rammasun, one of the strongest storms to hit China's coast, roared into southern China on Friday afternoon, killing at least one person and packing winds of up to 134 mph.

After causing havoc, widespread damage and at least 54 deaths in the Philippines this week, Rammasun gathered strength as it crossed the South China Sea. It was upgraded early Friday from typhoon to super typhoon status.

Named after the Thai word for "thunder god," Rammasun made landfall in Wenchang City on the northeastern coast of Hainan - south China's tropical island province.

The mayor of Wenchang, Liu Chunmei, told the state news agency Xinhua that many houses have been damaged. He said a man died after being hit by falling debris as his house collapsed. More than 70,000 residents near the landfall region were evacuated.

The man who died had returned home after the emergency evacuation order, Liu said. The Hainan Daily newspaper said he was 60 years old and surnamed Gao.

Hainan shut all its airports, ports, train and bus stations Friday and suspended ferry, train and bus services, Xinhua reported. Fishermen were ordered back to port and kindergartens closed. The island, a popular tourist destination sometimes promoted as "China's Hawaii," ordered all tourist resorts to close.

Meteorological authorities warned that Rammasun would be the strongest storm in 40 years to hit Hainan. Thursday, authorities issued China's first red alert this year, the most severe of the nation's four-tier, color-coded weather warning system.

On the nearby mainland, the typhoon is likely to affect southwestern Guangdong province and southeastern Guangxi province. The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center predicted storm surges bringing waves of up to 20 feet in coastal Guangdong, according to Xinhua.

Vietnam evacuated thousands of people from its northeastern coastal areas before the typhoon's landfall, which probably will be around 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

The typhoon follows heavy rains and landslides in China that have killed at least 45 people and injured 21 during the past week. Local governments have dispatched 66 working groups to 13 cities to supervise preparations for the typhoon, Xinhua said.

In Hainan's Wenchang, hotel owner Zhang Zhui heeded official advice and hoped for the best.

In recent days, Zhang, 28, evacuated his staff farther inland and tied down all movable objects outside the beach-side Boat Story Inn he opened in January. "I am a little scared, it's the biggest one in 40 years," he said before the storm. "But I am more worried about my new inn, that's the most important thing on my mind."

"I wish my losses could be as little as possible," he said.

Contributing: Sunny Yang



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Super typhoon slams China

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