Hong Kong picks up the pieces after fierce lashing from Mangkhut

A policeman looking at a Hong Kong harbourside commercial building whose windows were blown out when Typhoon Mangkhut lashed the territory on Sunday.
A woman making her way carefully along a road in Hong Kong yesterday, past trees that were blown down the day before, during the storm. There were 1,500 reports of fallen trees, said Secretary for Security John Lee Ka Chiu at a briefing.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A woman making her way carefully along a road in Hong Kong yesterday, past trees that were blown down the day before, during the storm. There were 1,500 reports of fallen trees, said Secretary for Security John Lee Ka Chiu at a briefing.
A policeman looking at a Hong Kong harbourside commercial building whose windows were blown out when Typhoon Mangkhut lashed the territory on Sunday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Flights rescheduled, trains and ferries back in service; city hopes to complete clean-up of major roads by today

Hong Kong was gradually finding its footing yesterday after being battered by Typhoon Mangkhut, which triggered the city's highest typhoon alert on Sunday.

Recovery work to clear the trail of debris such as fallen trees and broken glass left by Mangkhut began, while schools were closed for another day until today. But it was business as usual for the stock market.

Flights were rescheduled as airlines and the airport authorities worked to clear the backlog of stranded passengers after some 900 flights had to be cancelled during the storm.

Train and ferry services slowly got back on track through the day despite some chaos, while some bus services were suspended on account of blocked roads.

The government said yesterday it aims to complete the clean-up of major roads by today.

Consultancy manager Devin Ong, 30, told The Straits Times that while it usually takes him just 10 minutes to get to work, he spent 45 minutes doing so yesterday as there was no bus service and the few taxis available were all taken.

  • 900

    Number of flights cancelled during the storm.

    400

    Number of people injured.

"There were no buses in my area because there were fallen trees all over the roads. I waited for half an hour and couldn't get a bus so I walked all the way to the MTR to take the train to work."

Mr Ong added that his friends living in the New Territories told him they had "no way to get to work at all" because of the power disruptions that affected the train services.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka Chiu said at a briefing that the damage caused by Mangkhut was "serious and extensive".

Almost 400 people were injured during the storm - more than three times as many as during Typhoon Hato, which hit Hong Kong in August last year.

There were 1,500 reports of fallen trees, 600 obstacles blocking roads and 400 to 500 cases of broken or collapsed windows and furnishings, Mr Lee said.

Landslides and severe flooding affected some areas, with over 1,400 residents seeking refuge in temporary shelters overnight. Power and water disruptions continued to plague some areas yesterday.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who also attended the briefing, felt that Hong Kong was well prepared for Mangkhut and that the authorities were able to activate their plans shortly after the Hong Kong Observatory signalled the approaching strong winds.

"Because of the severity of this typhoon, we need Hong Kongers to unite and help restore order to the city as soon as possible," she said.

While there were criticisms that the government could have acted more swiftly, Mr Eric Ong, head of retail banking at OCBC Wing Hang, said: "I think this time round, there was sufficient time or warnings given to citizens in Hong Kong."

In Macau, casinos resumed operations in the morning after shutting down on Saturday night in preparation for Mangkhut. The move was to prevent a repeat of last year when 12 people died and the city's leaders and casino operators came under fire for being unprepared.

The casino shutdown is expected to cost Macau from 1.1 billion patacas (S$186 million) to 1.5 billion patacas in lost gaming revenue, estimated Union Gaming Securities Asia analyst Grant Govertsen, Bloomberg reported.

Industry employees said it was the first time Macau had shut down gambling since licences for casinos were given out in 2002, the report added.

Meanwhile, the authorities were trying to restore power to some 20,000 households affected by the storm, while shopkeepers tried to clean up their stores.

Over in China, at least four people were killed in Guangdong as Mangkhut ravaged the southern Chinese province, Xinhua news agency said. Mangkhut landed on the coast of Jiangmen city in Guangdong on Sunday, packing winds of up to 162kmh.

State broadcaster China Central Television reported that Mangkhut would cost Guangdong more than 200 million yuan (S$40 million) by way of damage.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2018, with the headline 'Hong Kong picks up the pieces after fierce lashing from Mangkhut'. Print Edition | Subscribe