Hong Kong Lowers Storm Signal as Typhoon Closes on ChinaSimon Lee and Emma Bi
Hong Kong lowered its storm warning signal as Severe Typhoon Utor swept past the financial center toward China’s coast.
The No. 8 storm signal, the third highest, was lowered to No. 3, with Typhoon Utor expected to make landfall in China shortly, the Hong Kong Observatory said at 2:53 p.m.
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. scrapped trading, airlines canceled flights and the government shut schools for the first typhoon of the year to prompt the raising of the No. 8 signal. Retailers and restaurants in the Central business district were closed, leaving tourists looking for food as they paced outside shuttered jewelry and clothing stores.
“The typhoon has ruined our plans,” said Bonnie Chen, a 24-year-old administrator from China’s Guangzhou city on holiday with her family. “We are here in Central to do some shopping but most of the shops are closed and the streets are quiet.”
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. said in a statement it will reschedule its interim results to Aug. 15 from today because of the storm. The average daily securities turnover for the first seven months at the exchange was HK$65.7 billion ($8.5 billion).
“It’s like a ghost town, everything’s closed,” Gavin Parry, managing director of Hong Kong-based brokerage Parry International Trading Ltd., said by telephone. “It’s eerie in that respect, given it’s such a populous place and usually it’s hustle and bustle.”
The China Meteorological Administration said the storm will probably make landfall in the western part of Guangdong between noon and the evening. The government also said that there will be heavy rains along the coast.
“Severe Typhoon Utor has weakened into a typhoon,” according to the Hong Kong observatory.
Typhoon Utor is forecast to move northwest or north-northwest at about 16 kilometers an hour toward the western coast of Guangdong, the observatory said.
Hong Kong, situated off China’s southern coast, gets on average about six tropical cyclones annually, according to the weather bureau. Severe Typhoon Vicente, the most serious storm to hit Hong Kong since 1999, brought schools, banks and flights to a halt last year as it felled trees and damaged a coal conveyor belt.
Banks are closed to the public, according to the Hong Kong Association of Banks. A total of 110 flights were canceled and 241 were delayed as of 12:00 p.m. local time, according to the Hong Kong Airport Authority. There were no reports of flooding or landslides, the government said in a statement.
“We can’t find a place to have breakfast or lunch, we are starving,” said 12-year-old Charlie Zhang, who was on holiday with his sister from China’s Shenzhen city. “All the shops are closed, I feel frustrated. Our family in Shenzhen are enjoying meals and watching TV at home.”
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the city’s biggest carrier, told passengers to defer non-essential travel.
Companies including Dah Chong Hong Holdings Ltd. and Citic Pacific Ltd. canceled post-earnings press conferences scheduled because of the weather.
Shun Tak Holdings Ltd.’s TurboJET, which operates a ferry service to Macau from Hong Kong, resumed sailings from 3 p.m. local time. MTR Corp., the city’s subway and train operator, said it will gradually increase services as the storm abates.
The government said 54 people took refuge at shelters and six people have sought treatment at public hospitals. The government received 21 reports of fallen trees.
About 177 workers who were trapped on an artificial island last night were rescued, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. The workers were building a bridge connecting Hong Kong to neighboring Macau and Zhuhai.