China rescues 49 tourists stranded on island by typhoon

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Forty-nine tourists stranded on an island off the coast of China's southern Guangdong province have been picked up and taken to safety as Typhoon Talas approaches, authorities said on Sunday (July 16).

The tourists belonged to four camping groups that had been stranded on Nanpeng island some 35km east of Yangjiang city on the mainland, the Ministry of Transport said in a statement. The island is normally uninhabited.

On Sunday morning, all of the tourists were transferred safely to a ship and a helicopter dispatched by the Guangzhou-headquartered Nanhai Rescue Bureau of the Ministry of Transport.

China's national observatory on Sunday morning renewed a blue alert for Typhoon Talas, which is expected to hit the southern island province of Hainan and Beibu Gulf.

At 0200 GMT (10am Singapore) on Sunday, the eye of Talas was above the South China Sea some 60km to the south-west of Sanya city in Hainan, packing winds of up to 23m per second, the National Meteorological Centre (NMC) said.

The NMC forecast that Talas would move north-westward at a speed of about 20km per hour towards Beibu Gulf and make landfall on the north-east coast of Vietnam on Monday morning.

From Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon, parts of the South China Sea, Beibu Gulf, Qiongzhou Strait, Hainan and coastal areas of Guangdong and Guangxi will experience strong winds.

Storms with up to 140mm of precipitation are expected to affect parts of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan.