HK comes to a halt as typhoon strikes

Pedestrians braving the storm yesterday morning when Hong Kong's storm signal was raised to No. 8, the third-highest level.
Pedestrians braving the storm yesterday morning when Hong Kong's storm signal was raised to No. 8, the third-highest level.PHOTOS: XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Pedestrians braving the storm yesterday morning when Hong Kong's storm signal was raised to No. 8, the third-highest level.
Pedestrians braving the storm yesterday morning when Hong Kong's storm signal was raised to No. 8, the third-highest level.PHOTOS: XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Eight hurt, over 700 flights cancelled or delayed, stock exchange, schools and offices shut

HONG KONG • The usually frenetic streets of Hong Kong were deserted yesterday as the city was battered by Typhoon Haima after the storm left a trail of deaths and damage in the Philippines.

More than 700 flights in and out of Hong Kong were cancelled or delayed, roads were clear of cars and pavements were empty, with schools and offices shut as the storm passed east of the city and hit southern mainland China.

Trading on the city's stock exchange was cancelled for the day, according to Agence France- Presse.

As Haima swept past Hong Kong, trees were felled by winds, and waves crashed over coastal roads.

Eight people were hospitalised with injuries, the authorities said. Four are in a serious condition, reported Agence France-Presse.

Hong Kong's No. 8 storm signal - the third-highest warning level - was raised yesterday morning, but was downgraded to a No. 3 signal in the early evening.

Even before the arrival of Typhoon Haima, Hong Kong had been experiencing a week of downpours which caused flooding in some parts of the city. Its observatory issued its severest "black rainstorm" warning on Wednesday.

An elderly man became a local hero after online images of him calmly reading a newspaper in a flooded branch of Starbucks in Chai Wan district went viral, earning him the nickname "Starbucks uncle".

Haima made landfall around noon yesterday near Shanwei in China's southern Guangdong province, reported Xinhua news agency.

Rainstorms are forecast to batter Shenzhen, Huizhou, Shanwei, Meizhou, Heyuan, Shantou, Jieyang and Chaozhou cities in Guangdong from yesterday to this morning.

Guangdong's flood control headquarters warned of a high risk of geological disasters that could be triggered by heavy rainfall brought on by Haima. The typhoon's strength is similar to that of Typhoon Usagi, which killed scores of people in the southern Chinese province in 2013.

Shenzhen closed offices, businesses and schools yesterday as the city activated its highest-level emergency measures in response to Haima. Nearly 80,000 people in Shenzhen have been evacuated, reported Xinhua.

Schools in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and Huizhou were also closed yesterday.

Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it expected "significant disruptions" to its flights between 11am and 10pm yesterday.

A number of flights between Singapore and Hong Kong were cancelled or postponed yesterday due to the typhoon.

At least four Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights to and from Hong Kong were cancelled, while six were postponed. Passengers on the cancelled flights were put on other SIA flights.

Tigerair cancelled two flights and postponed six - including two to and from Macau - while two Jetstar flights were delayed. Rebooking charges were waived for those on affected Tigerair flights.

Haima, which means "seahorse" in Chinese, has wreaked havoc in the Philippines where it brought ferocious gales and landslides.

Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed and at least eight people have been reported dead so far.

When it hit the Philippines late on Wednesday night, Haima was categorised as a super typhoon.

Melissa Lin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'HK comes to a halt as typhoon strikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe