Alarmed Chinese authorities evacuated thousands of people to safety as it braced itself up against the storm that has already claimed 21 lives in Philippines.

“The typhoon has already started to affect the city. We have evacuated thousands of people from danger areas,” a high-ranking official of the Yangjian city civil affairs bureau said.

The official Xinhua news agency reported the typhoon making its landfall in coastal areas of Guangdong province, amid powerful winds and torrential rain.

“The winds are already very, very strong. I can see trees uprooted from my window,” the harried official said.

“The water supplies and electricity have been halted as a safety measure. There is no traffic on the streets, all the schools and businesses are closed,” he added.

'The winds are already very, very strong. I can see trees uprooted from my window'

--Chinese Official

“Everyone has been told to stay at home and even if they wanted to go out they wouldn’t be able to walk because the winds are so strong,” he explained.

Imbudo is one of the most destructive storms to have hit the region in recent years. It battered Hong Kong earlier on Wednesday with extremely strong winds and heavy rains.

But it was the Philippines which bore the brunt of the storm. Officials said Thursday the toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the country in five years has risen to 21.

Most of the dead were swept away by flash floods or crushed by landslides and fallen trees.

The stormy weather prompted Prime Minister Tony Blair to cut short his two-day Hong Kong trip and return to London on Wednesday.