HAIKOU, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Typhoon Sarika, the 21st typhoon of the year, made landfall at south China's Hainan Tuesday morning as torrential rain and gales lashed the island province.
The tropical cyclone, packing maximum winds of 162 km per hour at its eye, landed at Hele Town, Wanning City at 9:50 a.m., according to the local meteorological bureau.
The National Meteorological Center issued a red alert, its highest-level alert, for Sarika on Tuesday morning.
Nearly half a million people, including fishermen and residents in low-lying areas and unsafe houses in Hainan have been evacuated as of Tuesday afternoon, said Ding Sheng, a disaster relief official with the Hainan Civil Affairs Department.
The department has allocated relief materials such as tents and quilts, food and water to the typhoon-affected areas, he said.
Xinhua reporters saw waves surge and trees fall from the storm in coastal Wanning. The municipal authorities said more than 137,000 residents have been evacuated.
At the island's main civil airport, Meilan International Airport in the provincial capital Haikou City, 250 flights were canceled Tuesday morning, authorities said.
High speed train services were halted starting Monday.
Local traffic police reported that gales and wet roads caused a passenger bus carrying 45 people on board to overturn on one of Hainan's major highways Monday night. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
However, 31 cattle belonging to a farmer in Dongxing village in Wanning, where the storm landed, were found electrocuted on Tuesday morning after a high-voltage line above the animals' shed broke. The farmer's family was evacuated to a safe building on Monday evening.
Provincial meteorological station chief Cai Qinbo previously predicted losses from the typhoon would be "grave," as the cyclone was projected to be the most powerful and destructive to land in Hainan in a decade.
From 8 a.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday, 97 townships in Hainan reported precipitation of more than 100 mm. Three townships in Wanning, Qiongzhong and Wenchang received more than 300 mm of rainfall, according to the provincial meteorological station.
Classes have been suspended in kindergartens, middle and primary schools in eight counties in the province, and tourist sites are closed to the public. Residents and tourists have been warned against hiking or strolling along the beaches.
Authorities have also ordered safety checks of reservoirs and power and water supplies, while demanding the fishery and farming sectors take precautions.
To brace for Sarika, some coastal scenic spots in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were closed on Tuesday. Nearly 8,000 tourists from Weizhou Island were evacuated on Monday.