Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Schools and offices closed as T8 Utor passes Hong Kong - South China Morning Post

Dozens of flights were cancelled and schools, courts and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange were closed on Wednesday morning after the Hong Kong Observatory raised a No 8 storm signal in the early hours as Typhoon Utor moved closer to the city.

Winds gusted up to 139km/h as the typhoon came within 260 kilometres of Hong Kong, bringing with it lashing rain and forcing the government to open 17 temporary storm shelters.

Utor will make landfall over the western coast of Guangdong and gradually depart from Hong Kong this afternoon, according to the observatory. Local winds are expected to weaken gradually on Wednesday afternoon.

In the morning, a 26-year-old woman was taken to hospital as a result of the storm, according to Hong Kong's hospital authority. She was in a stable condition.

Utor is the fifth tropical cyclone of the year that has required a typhoon signal be raised, and is the first severe typhoon to approach in 13 months. Utor will be closest to the city during the day, skirting around 250 kilometres to the southwest of Hong Kong, the Observatory said. 

Ferry terminals, schools and courts were closed on Wednesday morning as strong winds and heavy rainstorms lashed Hong Kong. Maximum sustained winds in Ngong Ping on Lantau Island were 110km/h, 77km/h in Cheung Chau and 42km/h in Kai Tak.

MTR trains were running on limited services, and almost all public bus services were suspended. 

The opening of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange was also delayed due to the typhoon. If the No 8 signal is lifted before noon, trading will resume by 2pm.

Send us your typoon-related photos to onlinenews@scmp.com or via the iScoop function on the SCMP mobile application.

The Airport Authority said on Wednesday morning that 107 flights have been delayed and 94 have been cancelled. 

Cathay Pacific announced that 15 incoming and outgoing flights are to be cancelled today, and a similar number of Dragonair flights are also affected. Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo are among the routes affected.

The airlines suggested those with travel plans today and tomorrow postpone them if possible and that rebooking fees would be waived.

There were no reports of flooding or landslides as of Wednesday morning.

There were 15 cases of fallen trees reported across the city last night, including in Deep Water Bay, Hung Hom, Tin Shui Wai, Sai Kung and Tai Po. No one was reported hurt.

A satellite dish on a Kowloon City rooftop was toppled by strong winds, taking down a street lamp as it fell yesterday afternoon. Another dish in To Kwa Wan also crashed to the ground, damaging three motorcycles.

Early this morning, 500 people were reportedly forced out into the fierce weather when a fire broke out at Chuk Yuen Estate, Wong Tai Sin. There were reports of explosions.

The storm is expected to make landfall in Guangdong this evening. Waves as high as 11 metres were expected in the north of the South China Sea on Wednesday, Xinhua reported, with disaster prevention teams requested for the Guangdong area.

The strong wind signal No 3 was in force for most of yesterday, as heavy rain and fierce winds lashed the city.

Utor killed four people in the Philippines and left another seven missing. The town of Casiguran in the northeast was largely destroyed, and it was said to be the strongest storm so far this year.

Additional reporting from Jennifer Ngo, Lai Ying-kit and Agence France-Presse

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