Hong Kong grounds flights, closes stock market as Typhoon Saola nears


Published: 2023-09-01 11:21

Last Updated: 2024-04-14 08:48

Hong Kong grounds flights, closes stock market as Typhoon Saola nears
Hong Kong grounds flights, closes stock market as Typhoon Saola nears

Hong Kong grounded flights, shut down its stock market and closed schools on Friday as Super Typhoon Saola barrelled towards China's southern coast.

The finance hub issued a T8 threat warning -- the city's third-highest -- around 2:40 am, and the city's bourse said the" morning trading sessions for all markets will be cancelled".

Saola's wind speeds topped 205 kilometres (127 miles) per hour as it came within 230 kilometres east-southeast of the financial hub around 8:00 am local time (0000 GMT), Hong Kong's observatory said.

It will bring "heavy squally showers and violent winds", the observatory said, adding weather would "deteriorate rapidly" throughout the day.

Streets were deserted Friday morning as a light drizzle blanketed Hong Kong island, with wind and rain expected to pick up later.

A direct hit on Hong Kong is rare, but the observatory said it would "assess the need to issue higher tropical cyclone warning signals" in the evening.

Airline Cathay Pacific said it cancelled all flights in and out of Hong Kong between 0600 GMT Friday and 0200 GMT Saturday.

Its subsidiary, budget airline HK Express, announced it was cancelling 70 Friday and Saturday flights in and out of Hong Kong.

On China's mainland, authorities issued the highest typhoon warning for the storm, which state media said would make landfall "in the coastal areas stretching from Huilai to Hong Kong" on Friday afternoon or evening.

Guangdong province also declared a windstorm emergency level I -- the highest level of emergency response.

Several cities delayed the start of the school year as a precaution.

China's transport ministry has deployed 16 rescue-and-salvage ships and nine rescue helicopters to areas set to be hit by the storm, state news agency Xinhua said.

Saola displaced thousands earlier this week as it passed the northern Philippines, but no direct casualties have been reported so far.

Authorities in Hong Kong's neighbouring casino hub of Macau said they were eyeing the possibility of issuing the city's third-highest typhoon warning on Saturday.

Southern China is frequently hit in summer and autumn by typhoons that form in the warm oceans east of the Philippines and then travel west.

While they can cause temporary disruption to cities like Hong Kong and Macau, fatalities have become much less common thanks to stronger building codes and better flood management systems.