- First red-level warning typhoon of the year bears down on southern China
- Typhoon Rammasun regained intensity after passing the Philippines
- Shipping, some flights canceled in anticipation of typhoon's approach
- Then-category 4 typhoon caused 64 deaths in the Philippines
After wreaking damage on the Philippines and claiming at least 64 lives over Tuesday and Wednesday, a newly intensified Typhoon Rammasun is bearing down on Hainan and Guangdong provinces in southern China.
The storm, which was downgraded as it passed over the Philippines, gained strength again over the South China Sea and is now battering Hainan, with its inner eye wall hugging the island's coast.
Now categorized by the China Meteorological Administration as a super typhoon, Rammasun made landfall on the island province of Hainan at around 1:30 p.m. (1:30 a.m ET) Friday after veering westwards.
The weather agency issued a 'red' typhoon warning, the highest of four color-coded warning levels. It is the first time this year the signal has been raised. Authorities in the region are on high alert.
Prior to the storm's reaching Hainan, a bulletin stated its intensity will be 50-55 meters per second (180-200 km/h or 112-123 mph). Super typhoons are categorized as having sustained winds of 150 mph (241 km/h) or higher.
Should Rammasun hit the mainland as expected, the storm is expected to produce strong gales that may top 93 mph (150 km/h), heavy rain and tidal surges.
Given the rapid escalation in the storm's strength, it is unclear how comprehensive preparations for this storm have been in the areas likely to be affected the most.
Shipping in the region has been suspended, as have some flights, including in Hainan, which is a popular holiday destination. Trains in Guangdong bound for Hainan have been halted in the provincial capital Guangzhou, and Hainan's high-speed railway has also had operations suspended, according to China's state-run news agency.
China's National Meteorological Center also said inland areas of some provinces, including Yunnan, Hubei and Henan would experience rainstorms. The NMC warned of flooding in cities and landslides in mountain areas.
The typhoon caused at least 64 deaths in the Philippines, as well as damage to property and infrastructure across Luzon, the largest island in the archipelago, according to the Philippines News Agency, citing of Office of Civil Defense. The agency said most victims were struck by falling trees or other debris. At least 103 injuries were reported and five people reported missing.
The typhoon damaged more than 26,000 houses -- about 7,000 of those destroyed, the agency said.
James Reynolds, a freelance journalist and videographer who was in Legazpi when the typhoon made landfall in the Philippines, said in a twitter post that Rammasun looked "immensely powerful -- one of the strongest I've seen in the (South) China Sea for a long time."
Only two other super typhoons have ever hit China, Saomai in 2006 and Marge in 1973. Saomai, registered as a once-a-century typhoon, was the most powerful typhoon ever to have made landfall over mainland China. This storm, says CNN's Ivan Cabrera, could top both of these.
The existing typhoon record of 78.9 m/s was observed at Dalaoshan, Hong Kong, on 1 September 1962