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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Typhoon Just Misses Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- Typhoon Chanchu veered to the east and spared Hong Kong on Wednesday before roaring toward mainland China's southern coast, where local media reported more than 180,000 people were evacuated.

Chanchu's eye was picking up speed and was expected to hit Guangdong province, one of China's biggest manufacturing centers, early Thursday, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

As the killer storm churned through the South China Sea, it caused an oil tanker to run aground near Taiwan's southern port of Kaohsiung, officials said. Rescuers in helicopters lifted 13 crew members off the ship.

The typhoon, the strongest ever reported in the South China Sea in May, was heading toward Hong Kong earlier this week, but it changed course overnight, swirling about 220 kilometers east of the city on Wednesday afternoon. The storm kicked up high waves and spawned squally showers but caused no major damage.

Hong Kong ordered kindergartens to close Wednesday along with schools for mentally handicapped children. Some ferry services to outlying islands were suspended.

After slamming into Guangdong, Chanchu was expected to churn up the coast to Fujian province, just across from Taiwan, according to the observatory's forecast and tracking map.

The province also called 25,219 ships back to port, Xinhua said. The storm was picking up speed as it moved at 25 kilometers per hour.