Typhoon Haima puts Hong Kong to halt

HONG KONG — As typhoon Haima edges closer to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Observatory issued the No. 8 Northwest Gale or Storm Signal at 6:10 a.m. HKT on Friday, bringing transport and public services to a standstill.

It is the first time Hong Kong hoisted a typhoon signal no. 8 in October since 1995, where the region’s typhoon season runs mainly in summer.

Winds over Hong Kong will turn to the southwest gradually this afternoon and the no. 8 signal is expected to remain in force most of the time during the day, the observatory said in its latest typhoon warning bulletin.

The Hong Kong Airport Authority said that a total of 689 passenger flights have been cancelled and delayed as at 6:30 a.m.

Local airline Cathay Pacific said in a statement that Haima will be causing significant disruptions for flights to and from Hong Kong from approximately 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. Flights after 10 p.m. on Friday are subject to delays due to air traffic constraints.

Flight schedule is expected to resume normal from 6 a.m. on Saturday, according to the airport authority’s Airport Operations Executive Director Ng Chi-kee, who called upon passengers to check with their airlines before heading to the airport.

Railway transportation is also interrupted, with direct trains going to and from Guangzhou and Shanghai suspended; while local rail lines provide limited services. Most buses and ferries services are suspended. Hong Kong Education Bureau announced that all classes of all schools are suspended. All clinics under the Hospital Authority are closed, while Accident and Emergency services at public hospitals remain normal. The Judiciary said that all hearings of the courts and tribunals will remain adjourned Friday.

Hong Kong’s stock and futures market and the gold market are suspended. Hong Kong Ocean Park and Disneyland are also closed due to bad weather.

At least 23 cases of tree collapse were reported in the morning. The Home Affairs Department has so far opened 20 temporary shelters in various districts. PNA/Xinhua-northboundasia.com