Typhoon rains trigger killer floods

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 July, 2010, 12:00am

A man died and another was washed away by a raging river yesterday as heavy rain from Typhoon Chanthu caused widespread flooding across Hong Kong and brought chaos to roads during the evening rush hour.

A 72-year-old man was declared dead in hospital just after 6.30 pm after being plucked from his flooded home in a Sheung Shui village.

That came half an hour after a man was reported to have been carried off from a Tai Po village by a flood-swollen river.

Seventy-one other villagers there were rescued by the emergency services. Two of them needed hospital treatment.

Rescue operations were still under way late last night in the village, Sha Po Chai Tsuen on Tat Wan Road, Tai Po, which was badly hit by the storm and which is home to 3,000 people.

There was no word on the man's fate.

Villagers said the flooding had severely damaged their homes.

The city escaped a direct hit from the storm, which slammed ashore in western Guangdong, but was struck by a deluge late yesterday afternoon. The Hong Kong Observatory lowered the typhoon signal at 2.40pm after Chanthu touched down north-northwest of Zhanjiang

The storm had been forecast to move northwest and slowly weaken as it moved inland, but the Observatory had to upgrade its rainstorm warning three times - issuing the amber signal at 4.35pm, the red signal at 5.20pm and the black rainstorm warning - the highest - 10 minutes later. The warning was lowered to amber at 7.50pm and taken down at 9pm.

The man who died was taken by rescue workers from his flooded home in Ying Pun Tsuen and admitted to Northern Hospital, where doctors declared him dead. Police did not give the cause of death, but he is reported to have drowned.

The Observatory said a waterspout occurred off Siu Sai Wan in Eastern district at 4.30pm.

A spokesman said it was the 39th waterspout seen within 460 kilometres of Hong Kong waters since 1959, with the last one seen on August 19, 2009.

Police said a Government Flying Service helicopter and firemen were sent to the scene.

In Kowloon flooding forced the closure of a section of Choi Hung Road, near the junction of Prince Edward Road East outside the Choi Hung Estate, at 6.30pm. Police cordoned off the area and diverted traffic.

Flooding was reported in a total of 32 locations - including Pat Heung and Kam Tin in Yuen Long, Sheung Shui, West Kowloon, Tsuen Wan and Kwai Ching.

More than 100 millimetres of rain fell in those areas between 4pm and 6pm.

In Wan Chai, hundreds of people left the book fair at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre after learning the black rainstorm warning had been raised, creating a crush of pedestrians on walkways leading to the Wan Chai MTR station.

With so many people in one place, and the flyover on O'Brien Road the only access to the station, a walk that should take 10 minutes became a 30-minute ordeal.

The Observatory urged people not to make any journeys until the black rainstorm warning was lowered and traffic conditions eased.

Today's weather is forecast to be cloudy with heavy showers at first and a few squally thunderstorms and swells over the sea.

Temperatures will range between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius with fresh to strong southeasterly winds.

Rising problems

Major floods were reported in this many areas of Hong Kong after a deluge late yesterday afternoon: 32