Typhoon to hit China's Hainan, seen easing drought

BEIJING - More than 40,000 people have been evacuated from China's southern island of Hainan ahead of the expected landfall of the year's first typhoon late on Monday, although it should help ease a severe drought, state media said.

Typhoon Kujira will sweep over the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea before hitting land somewhere between Wanning on Hainan and Zhanjiang in neighbouring Guangdong province, bringing strong wind and heavy rain, Xinhua news agency said.

Besides the evacuations, about 20,000 fishing boats have been called back to harbour, and school sessions on Tuesday have been suspended in the provincial capital, Haikou, it added.

The typhoon is expected to weaken gradually after reaching land, Xinhua said.

But it added the typhoon should help ease Hainan's worst drought in more than half a century, which has affected about a third of the island, a place China likes to style as its answer to Hawaii or Phuket.

Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China Sea, picking up strength from the warm waters and dissipating over land.