The strongest typhoon in more than a decade slammed into the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, injuring scores of people and shutting down one of the Asia's most important commercial hubs.

Cleanup operations are under way after Typhoon Vincente roared into southern China with winds hitting 140km/h. The Hong Kong Observatory issued its No. 10 hurricane signal - the highest - for the first time since 1999.

The Hong Kong government said that 118 people had been injured during the night of the storm. Fifty-two were admitted to hospital. Flying debris struck passersby in the Central business district and subway stations around the territory were converted into temporary shelters to accommodate dozens of stranded passengers.

Normally bustling Central was deserted early in the day with the stock market and major banks closed and businesses shuttered.

Dozens of flights at Hong Kong airport were cancelled or delayed and ferry services linking Hong Kong island with Kowloon, the New Territories and outlying islands were suspended.

After smashing through Hong Kong, Vincente headed into China's Guangdong province. The official Xinhua News Agency said nine flights were cancelled at Zhuhai airport, with heavy rain falling in the region. Train services were rescheduled.

Chinese state media said that even in its weakened condition Vincente could still dump 300mm (12 inches) of rain in Guangxi province after it passed through Guangdong

They said that authorities had evacuated more than 42,000 people in the Guangdong city of Maoming and were preparing for possible "flash floods, mudslides, landslides and other disasters".