HONG KONG • Two typhoons and a tropical storm were swirling around the coasts of China and Japan yesterday with Hong Kong preparing to batten down for strong winds and rain.
Severe Tropical Storm Linfa, packing maximum wind speeds of up to 110kmh near its centre, was around 130km north-east of Hong Kong by late afternoon and was set to hit overnight.
The stronger Severe Typhoon Chan-hom, with maximum winds of 155kmh, was hurtling towards the northern coast of Taiwan yesterday and was expected to make landfall in eastern China tomorrow, near the coastal cities of Wenzhou and Taizhou.
A third typhoon, Nangka, currently in the Pacific Ocean north of Guam, was heading towards the south-eastern coast of Japan, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, but was not due to make landfall in the next five days.
The Hong Kong Observatory raised its "T8" storm signal - its third-highest - late yesterday afternoon with hundreds of office workers heading home earlier than usual to avoid the storm.
Traffic was chaotic as subway stations were jam-packed with commuters and long queues formed at bus stops, the South China Morning Post reported.
Kindergartens were shut in the morning with container ports closed from the early afternoon.
The authorities also closed off a popular seaside promenade overlooking the city's famous Victoria Harbour and skyline as tourists grappled with umbrellas in the strong winds.
The Hong Kong Airport Authority said over 500 flights would be affected by the storm, but that so far, there have been no cancellations.
A check of the Singapore Changi Airport website yesterday showed that some flights between Singapore and Hong Kong have been rescheduled.
A Singapore Airlines (SIA) spokesman said two flights from Singapore to Hong Kong yesterday evening and one flight from Hong Kong to Singapore today were re-timed due to Typhoon Linfa .
Two Scoot flights will also be delayed by about 14 hours.
SIA said no flights have been affected by Chan-hom so far.
Television images showed powerful waves hitting the coast of cities on the eastern coast of Guangdong, a Chinese province, as the storm passed over en route to Hong Kong.
Linfa made landfall at Guangdong's Jiazi Harbour yesterday afternoon, but not before forcing some 10,400 fishing vessels to turn back to ports in five Guangdong cities.
China said the tropical storm had not caused any injuries or deaths.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA