Hong Kong Braces for First Storm This Year as Merbok Lashes

  • More than 300 flights canceled or delayed: Airport Authority
  • Long lines seen at metro stations, piers as people rushed home

Hong Kong braced itself for its first typhoon this year, as Tropical Storm Merbok lashed the financial center with rain and wind.

The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted Signal No. 8 at 5:20 p.m. local time. and said the warning would remain in force tonight. At 7 p.m., Tropical Storm Merbok was centered about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south-southeast of Hong Kong and is forecast to move north-northwest at about 20 kilometers per hour in the general direction of the city. It’s expected to make landfall over the vicinity of the Pearl River Estuary around midnight and will dissipate gradually on Tuesday, the Observatory said.

All ferry and some bus services in the city will be suspended by around 8 p.m. The government has opened temporary shelters. While Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. continued its anniversary cocktail reception at a hotel in the city, after-hours futures trading session was scrapped due to the storm signal.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. canceled or delayed 27 flights to and from Hong Kong on Monday and Tuesday. Airport Authority Hong Kong estimated 41 flights were canceled and another 275 delayed as of 7 p.m.

Workers in the city’s Central business district started rushing home earlier in the day when the Observatory warned it might raise the storm signal. While trains stepped up their frequency in the evening, they were still unable to meet passenger demand. Hong Kong’s central station thronged with passengers heading home at around 6 p.m. and some weren’t able to get to the platforms due to the crowd. More than 300 people were earlier in queue for ferries to Discovery Bay, a residential area on one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands.

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