Ports close in China island province Hainan as tropical storm Chaba looms

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SHANGHAI, July 1 (Reuters) - Local authorities in China's Hainan province on Friday announced the closure of three ports as weather forecasters reclassified Chaba as a severe tropical storm that was expected to make landfall over the weekend.

Chaba, currently east of Hainan, will move at a speed of 15-20 km (9-13 miles) per hour, gradually strengthening in intensity, forecasters said.

Chaba is expected to make landfall on the eastern coast of Hainan Island and the mainland's western Guangdong province over Saturday afternoon to early Sunday morning.

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The storm may further intensify into a full-fledged typhoon by the time it hits land, forecasters said.

Local authorities in Hainan announced the closure of three ports on Friday as Chaba moved towards the island, which lies off of China's southern coast.

In a statement, the transportation and shipping authority in provincial capital Haikou said Haikou Xiuying Port, Xinhai Port and Railway South Port will close from July 1 and are expected to re-open on July 4.

Chaba originated in the South China Sea and is expected to hit Guangdong, Hainan and nearby areas with strong winds and heavy rain.

Authorities in Hong Kong raised a typhoon warning on Thursday just as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the city to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its handover from Britain. read more

Earlier this week, China's National Defense General Office issued a level four emergency response and sent two working groups to Guangdong province and the Guangxi region to assist and guide typhoon prevention work, according to Chinese state media.

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Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Bernard Orr; Editing by Michael Perry and Tom Hogue

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