Typhoon Wutip: Many missing as Chinese boats sink

Fishermen drive a boat next to fishing ships docked at a port to shelter from Typhoon Wutip in Sanya, Hainan province, 29 September 2013
Image caption Fishing boats have been docked in Hainan to shelter from the storm

At least 70 people have been reported missing after a typhoon caused three fishing boats to sink in the South China Sea, Chinese state media say.

Five boats carrying more than 150 people encountered strong winds from Typhoon Wutip on Sunday, Xinhua news agency says citing maritime officials.

A rescue operation is under way and reports say 14 people have been found.

The storm is expected to make landfall in central Vietnam on Monday and thousands have been evacuated there.

The boats ran into strong winds near the Paracel islands, around 330km (200 miles) from China's southern coast, officials were quoted as saying.

Two of the boats, from southern Guangdong province, sank on Sunday, and contact was eventually lost with a third boat, the Associated Press news agency says.

At least 10 ships and six planes are involved in rescue operations. Officials have advised local fishing boats to berth to avoid rough waters.

On Monday, Vietnam was anticipating widespread flooding and landslides - Typhoon Wutip is said to be the most powerful to hit the country this season.

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Media captionVietnamese television shows footage of areas affected by Typhoon Wutip

The country's weather forecaster is expecting the typhoon to bring heavy rain and sustained winds of up to 93mph (150km/ph).

More than 40,000 villagers from areas that were expected to be affected by the typhoon have been moved to safety, reports say.

Last week, another typhoon, Usagi, left more than 25 people dead in China and affected tens of thousands of people on the mainland.

The storm hit just as millions were travelling for China's mid-Autumn festival - a national three day holiday when many visit family - leading to cancellations of transportation.

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