Airport chaos after Typhoon Nida hits HK


HONG KONG • Hordes of angry passengers stranded after Typhoon Nida pummelled Hong Kong crowded the airport yesterday, desperately seeking flights as the city emerged from lockdown while the storm swept across southern China.

Gusts of 151kmh whipped the city and rain lashed down during the night, leaving three people injured and a trail of fallen trees and torn-down scaffolding.

The storm triggered a Typhoon 8 signal - the third-strongest category - which was taken down a notch around midday yesterday as winds eased and the typhoon passed into mainland China.

But as the city's deserted streets came back to life with bus and train services resuming, Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport was inundated with stranded passengers.

An airport authority spokesman told AFP only 500 flights would run between 6am and midnight yesterday.

On a normal day, the airport would handle 1,100 flights.

Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair cancelled all their flights in and out of Hong Kong for 16 hours, from 10pm on Monday until 2pm yesterday.

Security guards prevented passengers without flights from reaching check-in desks yesterday, redirecting them to another part of the airport to seek help from staff.

Some complained that staff had not given them food vouchers or emergency accommodation despite lengthy waits.

"There was no announcement whatsoever about accommodation, food or the weather situation. It's chaotic," one passenger told local channel TVB.

Another passenger from the Philippines told AFP he had not been provided with food or accommodation, despite being at the airport since 7pm on Monday. His flight was rescheduled for 10pm yesterday.

After sweeping past Hong Kong, Nida made landfall in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen yesterday, with winds still blowing at up to 151kmh.

It was the strongest typhoon to hit the Pearl River Delta in 30 years, the China News Service cited experts as saying.

Shenzhen issued a red alert over rain - the highest in a four-tier warning system - after rainfall reached more than 80mm, China's meteorological bureau said.

Pictures showed roadside trees blown over, murky brown water filling the streets and a skyscraper with several glass panels blown off.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Airport chaos after Typhoon Nida hits HK'. Print Edition | Subscribe