Typhoon Hato Hong Kong
Waves
triggered by Typhoon Hato are seen in Hong Kong,
China.

Reuters/Tyrone
Siu


(Reuters) – Typhoon Hato, a maximum category 10 storm, slammed
into Hong Kong on Wednesday lashing the Asian financial hub with
wind and rain that uprooted trees and forced most businesses to
close, while in some places big waves flooded seaside streets.

There were reports of 34 people injured in Hong Kong while in the
city of Macau, across the Pearl River estuary, three people were
killed, authorities there said.

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’ve never seen one like this,” Garrett Quigley, a longtime
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’s crazy.”

Many skyscrapers in the usually teeming streets of Hong Kong were
empty and dark as office workers stayed at home.

Hato, that means “sky 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 tops of skyscrapers, windows
imploded and nearly 200 trees were uprooted, while some people
used canoes to venture out into flooded streets.

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 on Thursday.

 

HIGH SEAS

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. There was
severe flooding on the streets, with some cars almost completely
submerged, and the water supply was affected in some districts.
The three men who died included a 45-year-old Chinese tourist who
was hit by a heavy truck, according to a government statement.

The former Portuguese colony’s casinos, however, had backup
power, two casino executives told Reuters.

The storm also made landfall in China’s Guangdong province, in
Zhuhai city adjacent to Macau, Chinese state news agency Xinhua
reported.

Numerous flights and trains were cancelled in Guangdong province,
with Shenzhen’s International Airport particularly badly hit.

Thousands of residents along the Chinese coast were evacuated and
fishing vessels were called back to port.

Maximum winds near Hato’s centre were recorded at a destructive
155 kph (95 mph) as it continued to move west across Guangdong in
the general direction of Hainan island.

A senior scientific officer for the Hong Kong 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.

Trading in Hong Kong’s financial markets was halted for the day,
the stock exchange said. Typhoon Nida in August last year was the
last storm to close the exchange for the whole day.

The city’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, and Hong Kong
Airlines said the majority of their flights to and from Hong Kong
between 2200 GMT Tuesday and 0900 GMT Wednesday would be
cancelled.

Other transport services, including ferries to Macau and outlying
islands in Hong Kong, were suspended. (Additional reporting by
Farah Master and Stefanie McIntyre; Editing by Paul Tait, Michael
Perry and Jacqueline Wong)

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