Hong Kong quickly returns to normal after storm warnings cancelled

Services resuming after Typhoon Usagi leaves Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 September, 2013, 8:55am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 September, 2013, 4:46pm

Life and business in Hong Kong was quickly returning to normal after the Observatory cancelled all storm warnings at 10.25am.

Video: Buses and MTR resume operation as Typhoon Usagi leaves Hong Kong

It had previously lowered the storm signal from T8 to T3 at 9.20am.

Video: Rain continues as Typhoon Usagi weakens

Typhoon Usagi skirted the city by about 100km on Sunday night, dumping torrential rain on parts of the city and causing some wind damage. At least one person was reported injured Sunday night by falling objects, and some properties in low-lying areas such as Tai O suffered flooding damage. 

The Observatory said it was the strongest typhoon to brush Hong Kong since 1979. Tens of thousands of people had their travel plans upended with ferries and trains also disrupted, while Cathay said it expected flights to start resuming only from noon on Monday if weather permits. 

Hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed at Hong Kong airport stranding many passengers. Many passengers were milling around Hong Kong airport hoping to rebook their flights, but hand-written signs in Chinese and English warned them that there was little chance of getting standby seats on flights out Monday and to check back later.

There will likely continue to be flight delays and cancellations, Cathay said. It urged passengers with bookings to check their flight status online and local transport conditions before departing for the airport, and advises passengers to leave for the airport at least 3 hours before their departure time.

For passengers without a booking, the airline says they need not come to the airport as the chances of getting a seat on standby are very low. Passengers should put off non-essential travel on Monday and Tuesday, it said.

Officials in Hong Kong, which is well versed in typhoon preparations, said that 13 people were injured during the storm, while more than 60 trees had fallen.

Major thoroughfares were empty and signboards swayed in the wind early Monday, but some residents ignored official warnings and headed out to the coastline in raincoats to brave the wind.

“I heard the typhoon was strong so I wanted to feel it,” one woman told Cable TV in the eastern town of Ma On Shan.

At least 25 people on the mainland were killed after Typhoon Usagi hit Hong Kong and the southern China coast on Monday.

Reports said that at least 13 had been killed in Shanwei in the east of Guangdong province. The victims included people hit by debris and others who had drowned. One man was killed by a falling window pane.

The storm made landfall at 7.40 pm on Sunday near Shanwei, sparing densely populated Hong Kong a direct hit.

People from different parts of Hong Kong rushed to work after typhoon signal No 8 was lowered at 9.20am on Monday.

More than 80 people waited at the Lei Tung Estate for a bus to Central at 11.30am. Those at the front complained that they had waited for an hour but still no buses came.

Crowds like those in the usual rush hours were seen in interchange MTR stations North Point and Yau Tong after signal No 8 went off.

Since around 9.30am, long queues of traffic have been stuck at the Cross-Harbour tunnel entrance in Hung Hom for about 1.5 hours and congestion did not seem to have eased up.

Sharon Chan Pui-sze had been waiting for 15 minutes for a bus to Wong Chuk Hang in south Hong Kong island and expected to wait at least another 10 minutes. She said she had seen long waiting times and congestion at the tunnel entrance every time a T8 signal had been in place.

However she thought the government had done a better job in informing people about the signal being lifted than after Typhoon Utor earlier this year. She had received a text message at around 4am about the removal and had been better prepared to make her journey into work.

“Unlike last time, this time the government informed people much earlier and didn’t change the time of the removal [of the signal] again and again,” said Chan.

Video: Typhoon surfers: Brave souls hit the beach during Typhoon Usagi

Star Ferry said that services between Wan Chai and Central and Tsim Sha Tsui would be resumed at 10.30am.

MTR said it had deployed additional staff to operate more frequent rail and bus services to cope with passenger demand, but advised passengers to allow additional travel time due to crowd management measures.

This video sent in by reader Adrian Putra captures the howling winds near Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday night. 


The Hong Kong Exchange said morning trading had been delayed due to the storm and would resume at 1pm.

On its way towards southern China, Usagi forced the evacuation of 3,400 people in southern Taiwan. A mudslide hit one hotel in a popular hot-springs resort area of Taitung county late Saturday, shattering windows and damaging furniture.

Twelve people were injured in Kinmen, a Taiwan-controlled island off China’s Fujian province, after they were hit by falling trees, according to the Central Emergency Operation Centre.

Prior to hitting Taiwan, Usagi brushed the far north of the Philippines where a man and a woman drowned on Friday when their boat capsized in high seas. Another three people remain missing.

“Local disaster officials told us this was the strongest typhoon they had experienced in years,” regional civil defence officer Ronald Villa said on Sunday.

Typhoon Bopha left a trail of destruction in the southern Philippines last year, triggering floods and landslides that left more than 1,800 dead and missing and displaced nearly one million people.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse and Reuters