HONG KONG • Typhoon Hato, a maximum category 10 storm, slammed into Hong Kong yesterday, lashing the financial hub with wind and rain that uprooted trees and forced most businesses to close, while in some places, big waves flooded seaside streets.
An 83-year-old man died in Hong Kong after he fell into the sea, police said, and more than 80 were injured, while in the city of Macau, across the Pearl River estuary, five people were killed and 153 hurt.
In Hong Kong, more than 450 flights were cancelled, financial markets suspended and schools closed as Hato bore down, the first category 10 storm to hit the city since 2012.
"I have never seen one like this," Mr Garrett Quigley, a long-time resident of Lantau Island to the west of the city, said of the storm. "Cars are half submerged and roads are impassable with flooding and huge trees down. It is crazy."
Many skyscrapers in the usually teeming streets of Hong Kong were empty and dark as office workers stayed at home.
Hato, which means "pigeon" in Japanese, churned up Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour and triggered large swells and big waves on some of the city's most popular beaches, with serious flooding in low-lying areas.
In residential districts such as Heng Fa Chuen on densely populated Hong Kong Island, waves smashed against the sides of oceanfront buildings and surged over a promenade, sweeping away walls and benches and swamping vehicles parked nearby.
Construction cranes swayed at the top of skyscrapers, windows imploded and nearly 200 trees were uprooted, while some people used canoes to venture out onto flooded streets.
The authorities downgraded the storm to a category three by late afternoon, with government services, the courts, financial markets and companies set to resume normal business today.
The storm also caused a power blackout across most of the gambling hub of Macau for about two hours, residents said, with disruption to mobile phone and Internet networks. Many of the casinos ran on backup power.
There was severe flooding on the streets, with some cars almost completely submerged, and the water supply was affected in some districts.
Five people died, the Macau government said, while several people were missing.
One of the men died after being injured by a wall that was blown down, another fell from a fourth- floor terrace and a third was a Chinese tourist hit by a truck.
Apple Daily showed footage of people swimming through muddy water in what are usually roads, and being swept off their feet by winds.
The storm also made landfall in China's Guangdong province, in Zhuhai city adjacent to Macau, the official Xinhua news agency said. Numerous flights and trains were cancelled in the province, with Shenzhen's International Airport particularly badly hit.
Thousands of residents along the Chinese coast were evacuated and fishing vessels called back to port.
Maximum winds near Hato's centre were recorded at a destructive 155kmh as it continued to move west across Guangdong in the general direction of Hainan Island.
A senior scientific officer at the Hong Kong weather observatory warned that sea levels could rise several metres in some places, with the government issuing flood alerts and opening 27 shelters across the city.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Typhoon Hato batters Hong Kong
A hapless man, his raincoat and umbrella useless against the raging elements, clinging to a lamp post for dear life as Hong Kong was lashed by Typhoon Hato yesterday. The worst storm to hit the city in five years killed one person, shut down the stock market and schools, and forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled, including from Singapore. Hato also slammed into Macau, causing a power blackout and leaving five people dead.