UPDATE 1-"Super typhoon" regains strength, takes aim for China

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HONG KONG, Oct 20 (Reuters) - A “super typhoon” regained strength and headed for southern China on Wednesday after wreaking havoc across the northern Philippines, destroying thousands of homes and killing at least 11 people.

Chinese ports called in vessels as Typhoon Megi looked set to make landfall east of Hong Kong, one of the most crowded cities on Earth and long used to cyclonic storms which threaten between May and September, many after hitting the Philippines.

Lives of more than 256,000 people were disrupted by Typhoon Megi, which isolated coastal and mountain areas in the rice-producing northern Philippines, said Noel Lopez, provincial administrator of Isabela province. Many had been evacuated in the path of the storm.

“This is the worst typhoon to hit our province in nearly 20 years,” Lopez told Reuters, adding that 80 percent of houses in four coastal towns had been damaged or destroyed.

“We’re thankful to the Lord because there was minimal losses in terms of lives.”

Oil platforms in the eastern part of the South China Sea were evacuated on Wednesday, a source said. Asia's top oil refiner, China's Sinopec Corp 0386.HK600028.SS, suspended some small volumes of fuel loading destined for Hong Kong, another source said. [ID:nBJK000080]

“It’s one of the biggest (typhoons) in recent years,” said Kong Wai, a scientific officer with the Hong Kong Observatory, adding that it was expected to make landfall on Saturday.

Hong Kong’s Cable Television said a Taiwan vessel had sunk in the storm and at least one sailor died.

About 2,500 fishing boasts in Haikou, the capital of the Chinese resort island province of Hainan, had returned to harbour on Tuesday and the city of Sanya was taking down billboards, the China Daily said, to prevent injuries. Trains from the city had been halted. Megi had winds in excess of 250 kph (155 mph) when it hit Isabela province on Monday. It lost strength overland, only to pick up energy again from the warm sea waters west of the Philippines. Tropical Storm Risk's ( projections show the storm hitting the Chinese coast between Hong Kong and Zhangzhou later in the week.

In Thailand, flooding has killed at least 11 people in the past 10 days, and heavy rains meant there was a risk of flooding in parts of Bangkok on Wednesday.

“If rain continues and pushes water levels in the reservoirs over the limit, areas along the riverbank in Bangkok may flood, with rising sea water making things worse,” Department of Disaster Prevention director-general Vibul Sanguanpong said. (Additional reporting by Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok) (Writing by John Mair; Editing by Nick Macfie)