China's manned submersible Jiaolong on Saturday evening left a seamount under exploration to take shelter from the approaching tropical storm Rumbia.
Loaded on its support ship, Xiangyanghong 09, the sub is sailing southwest. Scientists said it depended on sea conditions when they would return to the operation zone of Jiaolonghai Seamount.
The storm is expected to enter the South China Sea, where the seamount is located, on Sunday afternoon after brushing past the Philippines, bringing strong gales and high waves to the area, according to meteorological authorities.
The Jiaolong performed a deep-sea dive at the seamount on Friday to test its positioning system during its first experimental voyage that began on June 10.
During its 113-day mission, the sub will conduct scientific research in the South China Sea, the northeast Pacific Ocean and the west Pacific, marking the start of a five-year trial period for the submersible before it starts regular operation.
Rumbia, the sixth tropical storm to hit China this year, is expected to arrive in Guangdong Province on Monday, hitting the country's already rain-soaked southern regions.
(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2013)