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Strongest storm in decades kills 17 in south China

BEIJING -- The strongest typhoon to hit southern China in four decades has killed 17 people after claiming at least 94 lives in the Philippines, officials said Sunday.

Typhoon Rammasun killed nine people and left five missing after hitting Hainan island on Friday off China's southern coast, said an official at the Ministry of Water Resources' flood control department said. Eight others died later in the Guangxi region as the storm plowed into the mainland on its way north to Vietnam.

The typhoon is the strongest to hit southern China in 41 years, according to the China Meteorological Administration. Wind speeds reached 216 kilometers (130 miles) per hour, with the storm knocking down power lines and damaging buildings, Xinhua said.

Authorities in southern China ordered the highest level of alert and suspended hundreds of buses, trains and flights across the region.

The typhoon had wreaked havoc earlier in the week in the northern Philippines, leaving 94 people dead.

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