The powerful but rapidly weakening storm dumped heavy rain on parts of Guandong province after lashing neighbouring Hong Kong with shrieking gale winds, according to officials and state media on Wednesday.
Typhoon Dujuan swept through several cities in Guandong, including the capital Guangzhou, economic boom town Shenzhen, Shantou and Shanwei, destroying thousands of homes.
Local officials said they were still struggling to determine the extent of damage, while China news service estimated the economic losses amounted to at least 2.0 billion yuan ($240 million).
China’s official Xinhua news agency said 16 migrant workers on a construction site were killed, without giving further details.
Typhoon Dujuan, the strongest to batter the region in four years, narrowly missed a direct hit on Hong Kong on Tuesday night. There were no reports of major damage.
By early Wednesday it had been downgraded to a severe tropical storm. Flooding and violent rainstorms were expected in coastal areas, as it gradually moved west.
The second highest storm alert was raised in the cities of Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen, said a Guandong provincial official by telephone.
Shipping services had been suspended in the two cities.
More than 3000 passengers were stranded at Shenzhen’s airport and train station. More than 260 flights were cancelled or delayed, leaving up to 2000 travellers stranded in a Hong Kong airport.
The storm first tore into southeastern Taiwan on Tuesday, killing two people and cutting power to more than half a million homes. One person is still missing.
About six typhoons skirt Hong Kong each year, but direct hits are rare.
The deadliest in recent decades was Typhoon Wanda in 1962, which killed nearly 200 people and sank or destroyed nearly 1300 boats and ships.