BEIJING - CHINESE authorities on Wednesday ordered fishermen back to shore and halted rail services as Typhoon Megi, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Pacific since 1990, barreled towards the mainland.

Megi has already wreaked havoc in the Philippines, killing at least 19 people and leaving relief workers scrambling to deliver aid to devastated, remote towns.

It is now making its way towards southern China, where it is expected to make landfall in the southern province of Guangdong on Saturday, the National Meteorological Centre said.

'We expect that the strong winds and torrential rain brought by Megi will increase the probability of geological disasters happening in the south such as floods, land and mudslides,' the centre warned.

Fishing boats in the southern province of Guangdong and neighbouring Fujian have been ordered not to leave port, and those already at sea have been ordered back to shore, the official China Daily newspaper said.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency, citing the State Oceanic Administration, has said that Guangdong could see storm-triggered waves of up to seven metres.

China braces for Megi