[HONG KONG] Southern China hunkered down as it braced for Typhoon Nida to make landfall Tuesday, with the city of Guangzhou issuing its first-ever red storm alert.
Those living in the storm's projected path when it reaches mainland China have been told by the the National Commission for Disaster Reduction to prepare three days' worth of food and other essentials, the official Xinhua news agency reported late Monday.
The cities of Zhuhai and Shanwei in Guangdong province have also issued red alerts - the highest in China's four-tier colour coded warning system. Shenzhen has issued a yellow one - the third most severe.
All work, production, and classes in Guangzhou are suspended during the alert. Members of the public have been advised to stay indoors, Xinhua reported.
Guangzhou Railway Corporation said all trains departing from Guangdong would be cancelled on Tuesday, with hundreds of thousands of passengers affected.
"It's the strongest typhoon to hit the Pearl River Delta since 1983 and will bring severe flooding," Xinhua cited local official He Guoqing as saying.
More than 220 flights out of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai airports were cancelled before the storm passed over Tuesday, the Sohu news portal said.
Nearly 2,000 workers constructing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge were evacuated Monday morning, and more than 2,000 others working on an offshore oil platform were relocated Sunday evening, Xinhua said.
As Nida edged closer, the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong issued a "T8" storm signal - its third-highest - Monday evening as the storm picked up winds of 130 kmh.
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair cancelled all of their flights in and out of Hong Kong for 16 hours, from 10pm (1400 GMT) Monday until 2 pm Tuesday.
That would affect more than 100 flights, said a spokeswoman for Cathay, the city's flag carrier.
Hong Kong authorities closed nursery schools and special needs learning institutions on Monday, while ferries between Hong Kong and the gambling strip of Cotai in Macau were suspended.
"Local winds are expected to strengthen significantly around dusk," said a weather bulletin issued by the Hong Kong Observatory.
"There will be squalls, heavy rain and rough seas after sunset. There may be flooding in low-lying areas." Nida brought strong winds and torrential rains to the northern Philippines over the weekend, while southern China has already been hard-hit by storms this summer.
Super Typhoon Nepartak brought chaos to Taiwan in July and left at least 69 dead once it made landfall in the mainland's eastern province of Fujian, despite having been downgraded to a tropical storm.