At least 47 people are missing after Typhoon Wutip sank two Chinese fishing boats in the South China Sea, maritime authorities confirmed on Monday.

The boats, both from south China’s Guangdong Province, sank on Sunday as they attempted to navigate gales near the disputed islands called Xisha by China and Paracel by Vietnam Islands, about 330 km from China’s island province of Hainan, Chinese officials in Hainan said.

So far, rescuers have retrieved 13 survivors, the sources said, adding that search and rescue operations are continuing, state-run Xinhua reported.

Altogether five fishing boats with a total of 171 people aboard were caught by Typhoon Wutip, the 21st of the season.

Beyond the two known to have foundered, contact has been lost with a third vessel.

China’s maritime authority on Sunday upgraded its wave warning from yellow to orange, the second-highest of a four-tier colour-coded weather warning system, as the typhoon approached land.

The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre warned of storm tides from Sunday to Monday in Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi. Wutip is expected to make landfall on Vietnam’s central coast on Tuesday.

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