International Desk: A ship has split in two after being hit by a powerful typhoon in the South China Sea. There were at least 30 passengers, including the crew. Rescuers have launched a search for them, officials said. Authorities sent planes and helicopters to help with the rescue operation. The incident took place at 5.30pm local time on Saturday, the British Guardian reported. At least three people have been rescued so far. The ship was caught in a storm 160 nautical miles southwest of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Government Flying Service, its supervisor, said: "The ship has suffered extensive damage. It was torn in two by the storm. ” However, the flying service did not reveal the name or destination of the ship. In a statement, they further said that a tropical storm at a speed of 8 miles per hour hit it. An official statement said the ship had been hit by a huge wave before the first helicopter arrived. Its crew members said there were still at least three survivors. The storm crossed the western part of China's Guangdong province on Saturday. The flying service sent two planes and four helicopters for the rescue operation. A photo released by the Flying Service shows a crew being taken to a rescue helicopter. Rescuers say they fear many people are missing. With the permission of the authorities, the operation will be carried out till late at night.