Typhoon Usagi kills 25 on mainland China, and delays flights in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 11:06am

Airlines rushed yesterday to clear a backlog of passengers stranded at Hong Kong's airport as a result of Typhoon Usagi as mainland authorities said at least 25 people had been killed in the storm, the strongest to hit eastern Guangdong in 40 years.

The Airport Authority was liaising with airlines to reschedule services after more than 500 flights were cancelled or delayed.

Disruption continued even after all typhoon signals had been cancelled shortly after 10.25am.

The authority said that from midnight to 9.30am, 255 flights had been cancelled and 229 delayed. It had no figures for the period after 9.30am but a check of its website at 7pm showed 66 flights due to leave or arrive after noon had been cancelled.

Cathay Pacific will run one extra flight each to and from Taipei, Bangkok and Singapore and put bigger aircraft on services to Sydney, Tokyo and Osaka.

Dragonair will add a flight each on its routes to and from Shanghai, Qingdao , Sanya and Kaohsiung and fly bigger aircraft to Beijing and Fukuoka.

Video: Travellers upset over delays at Chek Lap Kok Airport

The authority expected the airport to have handled 700 flights by the end of the day. "We can usually handle 1,000 flights on a normal day. But it should be noted that many flights were cancelled yesterday morning," a spokesman said.

Among those still stranded was Andualem Demissie, who was trying to get to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "[Ethiopian Airlines] has only two flights a day. I might have to stay overnight at the airport if [they do not arrange for me] to take another flight," the 52-year-old said.

Kelvin Lau, 30, failed to secure a standby seat to Seoul with China Airlines yesterday. He had been waiting at the airport since Sunday afternoon.

Mainland media reports meanwhile said the storm, which struck the coast at Shanwei on Monday night packing 162km/h winds and torrential rain, affected more than 3.56 million people in Guangdong, with 7,100 homes collapsing and 226,000 people having to be moved. The province's transport system was thrown into chaos.

Of the 25 deaths, 13 occurred in Shanwei.

Direct economic losses were estimated at 3.24 billion yuan (HK$4.08 billion).

The Southern Metropolis Daily said several dams in Chaozhou and Shanwei burst, flooding villages and causing more than 10,000 villagers in Raoping county, Chaozhou, to be evacuated because of the floodwater.

County head Ma Rusheng rejected criticism that the dams had been poorly built, saying Usagi was the strongest typhoon to hit the area since 1989.

In Hong Kong 17 people - 12 men and five women aged 29 to 73 - sought medical treatment at public hospitals.

Dr Paul Tsui Hon-yan, chairman of the Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics, estimated that the storm had cost the logistics industry as much as HK$100 million through halted cargo flights and ship sailings.

Monsoon rains made worse by Usagi pounded the Philippines for a third day yesterday, leaving 18 people dead, according to Agence France-Presse.