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Typhoon Usagi sweeps China, Hong Kong

At least 25 people have died after Typhoon Usagi swept China's Guangdong province, and the storm killed at least two people in the Philippines, officials said. The storm also injured about a dozen people in Hong Kong.

China evacuated about 226,000 people as Typhoon Usagi brought gales, torrential rain and floods that destroyed several thousand homes in Guangdong, the Civil Affairs Ministry reported Monday. Prior to hitting China and Taiwan, Typhoon Usagi brushed the far north of the Philippines, causing landslides and at least two people drowned.

"Local disaster officials told us this was the strongest typhoon they had experienced in years," a regional civil defense officer Ronald Villa told the news agency AFP on Sunday.

Typhoon Usagi, at its peak the season's strongest storm, forced hundreds of flight cancellations and shut down shipping and train lines before weakening to a tropical depression over the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Monday. Late on Sunday, the Hong Kong Observatory had declared a No. 8 typhoon signal, on a scale of 1 to 10, indicating sustained winds of 63 to 117 kilometers per hour, and gusts of over 180 kilometers per hour.

Officials In Hong Kong canceled or delayed about 450 flights after Usagi made landfall there late Sunday. On Monday, airlines began struggling to clear the backlog of stranded passengers. In China, officials suspended intercity trains including the high-speed rail to Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong until Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The South China Morning Post has reported that the National Meteorological Center expects the storm to weaken as it heads across Guangdong.

mkg/dr (AFP, dpa, AP)