BEIJING (AP) -- A typhoon that had shut down business in the financial center of Hong Kong and sunk a cargo ship weakened into a tropical storm as it churned through southern China on Thursday.
Packing high winds and torrential rain, Typhoon Utor had forced the closure of schools, offices, shopping centers and construction sites in cities along its path northwest across Guangdong province.
Yet only minor damage was reported, a result, state media said, of strict adherence to orders to confine tens of thousands of fishing boats to port and evacuate vulnerable people to shelters.
Thousands of travelers were stranded by the suspension of flights and ferry services, but no deaths or injuries were attributed to the storm.
By Thursday morning, the force of the storm had weakened considerably, with sustained winds at its center falling to speeds of 85 kph (53 mph) as it headed northwest through Guangxi province, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) west of Hong Kong.
Life returned to normal in Hong Kong Thursday, a day after offices, schools and courts were shut and the stock market halted trading, bringing an eerie calm to the normally busy southern Chinese commercial hub.
Flights had been canceled and ferry services curtailed while helicopter search and rescue teams from Hong Kong and Guangdong province rescued 21 crew members from a bulk carrier transporting nickel ore before it sank in waters southwest of Hong Kong
Utor was the world's strongest typhoon of the year before it crossed the Philippines earlier this week, leaving at least eight people dead.
Associated Press writers Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.
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