Storm lashes Hong Kong, wreak­ing havoc

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS - Claire Huang Hong Kong Correspondent

Typhoon Mangkhut left a trail of de­struc­tion and in­juries in Hong Kong as it bar­relled to­wards main­land China af­ter rip­ping through the Philip­pines.

More than 200 peo­ple sought med­i­cal treat­ment at pub­lic hos­pi­tals af­ter the storm hit.

The Hong Kong Ob­ser­va­tory had ear­lier warned that wind speeds of up to 118kmh were ex­pected.

In an up­date yes­ter­day evening, it said: “Mangkhut is de­part­ing Hong Kong grad­u­ally, and lo­cal winds are weak­en­ing.

“How­ever, de­struc­tive south­east­erly winds are still af­fect­ing parts of the ter­ri­tory.”

De­spite the respite from Mangkhut, the gov­ern­ment is not tak­ing any chances and has or­dered all schools to be closed to­day.

Hong Kong res­i­dents hun­kered down yes­ter­day in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the wrath of the most pow­er­ful typhoon of the year as it drew close, with vi­o­lent gusts at one point re­port­edly hit­ting 232kmh.

Trees snapped, win­dows shat­tered un­der the sheer force of the winds and build­ings swayed, while some 7,000 house­holds suf­fered power dis­rup­tions.

Videos of a crane fall­ing from a Kowloon de­vel­op­ment un­der con­struc­tion and crush­ing an older build­ing, and an­other where the roof and ex­ter­nal wall of a build­ing in Tai Kok Tsui tore away and smashed to the ground, have been widely cir­cu­lat­ing on­line.

Lo­cal me­dia also re­ported other ex­am­ples of the de­struc­tion caused by Mangkhut, in­clud­ing a rooftop unit that was blown over and be- came stuck in the gap be­tween two build­ings.

Sin­ga­porean Jovita Toh, who has lived in Hong Kong for 18 years, said this was the worst typhoon she has ex­pe­ri­enced.

Ms Toh, a 55-year-old ex­ec­u­tive in the in­flight en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, said her apart­ment build­ing in Mid-Lev­els is sand­wiched be­tween taller ones, so that re­duced some of the im­pact.

“As I re­call, it’s the first time the clo­sure of the air­port was an­nounced way i n ad­vance,” she noted, adding that the amount of prepa­ra­tion for this mon­ster storm was quite im­pres­sive.

“Like all Sin­ga­pore­ans, I made sure there’s food (at home). My of­fice is on the 16th floor and fac­ing Vic­to­ria Har­bour, so we se­cured the win­dows with tape and moved the com­put­ers.”

The Ob­ser­va­tory said yes­ter­day af­ter­noon that storm surges at Vic­to­ria Har­bour and Tai O reached about 4m, while heavy rain caused se­vere flood­ing in low-ly­ing ar­eas across the is­land, in­clud­ing in ru­ral New Ter­ri­to­ries, where vil­lagers were forced to evac­u­ate.

Ferry and tram ser­vices were sus­pended for the day while the MTR Cor­po­ra­tion pro­vided lim­ited ser­vices.

Around 900 flights were can­celled yes­ter­day, leav­ing pas­sen­gers stranded at the air­port. But the air­port au­thor­i­ties later said flights will op­er­ate overnight to­day to clear the back­log.

In Ma­cau, where the de­struc­tion caused by Su­per Typhoon Hato last year was still fresh in the mind, po­lice were seen pa­trolling the streets in cars and play­ing au­dio warn­ings to urge peo­ple to stay in­doors.

Gam­bling was sus­pended on Satur­day be­fore Mangkhut hit to pre­vent a re­peat of last year when nine peo­ple were killed and the city’s lead­ers and casino op­er­a­tors came un­der fire for be­ing un­pre­pared.

The eco­nomic hit in Hong Kong and across China could reach US$50 bil­lion (S$68.7 bil­lion), on top of the US$16 bil­lion to US$20 bil­lion the typhoon prob­a­bly ex­acted in the Philip­pines, said Mr Chuck Wat­son, a dis­as­ter mod­eller for Enki Re­search in the United States.

Bloomberg said the im­pact in the Philip­pines could be be­tween 5 and 6 per cent of its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

ST PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Fire­fight­ers es­cort­ing peo­ple through flood­wa­ters as Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Hong Kong yes­ter­day. The most pow­er­ful typhoon of the year was re­ported yes­ter­day evening to be weak­en­ing as it moved deeper into south­ern China.

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