More than two dozen crew members are missing from a ship that split in two after being hit by a tropical storm.

Workers were forced to abandon the industrial vessel which sank after Typhoon Chaba triggered perilous conditions in the South China Sea, hampering rescue efforts.

Dramatic aerial footage showed people being hoisted into a helicopter by emergency crews, with at least three of the 30 crew members brought to safety around 5.30pm local time on Saturday (around 10.30am GMT).

The disaster happened about 300 km (186 miles) south of hong kong.

Typhoon Chaba, the first of the year to strike Chinais expected to bring record rainfall and high disaster risk to provinces such as Guangdong, located about 137 km (85 miles) from Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Flying Service, which sent six planes, said crew members were struggling due to the storm.

Chaba, the Thai name for the hibiscus flower, made landfall in the western part of Guangdong on Saturday afternoon local time, the National Meteorological Center said.

Although the storm’s strength has now been reduced, “extremely heavy” downpours are expected to bring up to 24 inches (600 mm) of precipitation to some areas.

“Abundant monsoon water vapor will bring intense torrential rains and huge cumulative rainfall of an extreme nature,” said NMC chief forecaster Gao Shuanzhu.

The ship sank after being split in two. Photo: AP

Hong Kong authorities lifted the typhoon alert on Thursday, as did Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in the city to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its handover from Britain to China.

The Palace Museum, which was due to open on Saturday as part of celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese rule, remained closed.

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The dangerous conditions have also forced businesses to close and caused problems on public transport networks.

Severe weather, including unusually heavy flooding, has been predicted in China through August, with climate change partly to blame.

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