Typhoon warning issued ahead of Hong Kong handover anniversary



BEIJING, June 29 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's weather forecaster released a typhoon warning late on Wednesday, urging the public to stay away from the coast, as rain and unsettled weather moves across southern China, ahead of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to the mainland.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong for the anniversary on Friday of the 1997 handover of the former British colony, the Xinhua state news agency has reported.

At 10 p.m., the tropical depression over the central part of the South China Sea was estimated to be about 740 km south-southeast of Hong Kong and is forecast to move north-northwest at about 10 kph in the general direction of the coast of neighbouring western Guangdong province, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

It said on its website, its lowest alert level - Standby Signal, No. 1 - was in force and would remain so before noon on Thursday.

According to the present forecast track, the observatory said the tropical depression would remain at a distance over 500 km from Hong Kong on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Local winds are not expected to strengthen significantly.

The observatory said that as the tropical depression gradually edged closer to the coast of western Guangdong, its outer rainbands would affect the territory on Thursday.

"There will be swells. Members of the public should stay away from the shoreline, and not to engage in water sports," it said.

The coastal province of Guangdong, China's most populous province with about 126 million people, was this month inundated with rain that brought flooding as summer thunderstorms lashed China's south.

Gales in the South China Sea, off Guangdong's east coast and near the Paracel Islands, were forecast to reach moderate magnitudes of 6-7 but the wind in some parts of the sea could be stronger, the forecasters said earlier.

"Fishing vessels and low power vessels in open sea should seek shelter as soon as possible and be secured properly with moorings," the observatory warned.
Reporting by Beijing newsroom, Hong Kong newsroom and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Robert Birsel and Alison Williams

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