A powerful typhoon has struck southern China, about 100km north-east of Hong Kong, killing at least two people and causing tens of thousands to be evacuated.

Typhoon Usagi made landfall in Guangdong province. Two people were killed by a tree blown down by strong winds in Shantou City, Xinhua reported.

China's National Meteorological Centre has issued its highest alert and authorities ordered the evacuation of more than 80,000 people in Fujian province.

Evacuations also took place in Guangdong, where more than 44,000 fishing boats were ordered back to port.

Chinese authorities said they have deployed more than 50,000 disaster-relief personnel.

Usagi - which means rabbit in Japanese - was classified as a severe typhoon, packing sustained winds of 175 kilometres per hour (109mph), with gusts of up to 213kph (132mph).

It was expected to hit Hong Kong after lashing parts of the Philippines and Taiwan with heavy rain and fierce winds that caused at least two deaths.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled and shipping was halted in the former British colony.

However, the typhoon veered away at the last minute and made landfall near Shanwei. It was moving west-northwest at 22kph (14mph), the Hong Kong Observatory said.