Public put at risk of high winds because No 8 signal was not hoisted, says meteorologist The Observatory was under fire yesterday for not hoisting a storm warning above the No 3 as Typhoon Prapiroon lashed some parts of the city with winds of up to 200km/h. Unions said workers had been put in danger as they had gone to work as required because a No 8 signal had not been hoisted, while the swirling winds toppled cargo, blew down trees, caused traffic and flight chaos and stranded thousands of people at the airport. Some people even suffered bee stings, as hives were knocked from the branches of trees and the occupants took out their fury on bystanders. Meteorologist Clarence Fong Chi-kong, the host of website Weather Underground, called on the Observatory to update its storm classification system, which focuses mainly on wind speeds in the urban area. He said it was outdated, since the population had sprawled into the New Territories and outlying islands. But the Observatory defended the system, saying it considered average wind speeds, not gusts. 'The wind speed in Victoria Harbour only met the standard for issuing a No 3 signal, a spokesman said. Speaking to RTHK, Mr Fong said the Observatory had put the public at risk, with the lower signal lulling them into a sense of false security. 'Very high wind speeds were recorded in some parts of the city. We really wonder why the observatory still did not issue the No 8 signal,' he said. The Observatory said the strongest winds were at Ngong Ping on Lantau Island, reaching 209 km/h at 4pm. High winds were also recorded in populated areas such as Tsing Yi with a speed of up to 108 km/h, and 98 km/h at Peng Chau. Under the present system, the No 8 signal will be issued when gale or storm force winds are expected or blowing in 'Victoria Harbour' with a sustained wind speed of 63-117 km/h. Construction Industry Employees' General Union chairman Choi Chun-wah said workers' lives were in danger if their employers insisted that they should work. 'I think the No 8 signal should have been issued in the morning, as the conditions were very bad. Employers might still think it is still appropriate for workers to work, as the Observatory only hoisted the No 3 signal.' Hundreds of passengers were trapped at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal and China Ferry Terminal, as ferry services to Macau and mainland cities were suspended. More than 90 seamen on two mainland barges were rescued by government helicopters as they battled raging waves. Across the city, 531 trees were uprooted, two of them disrupting East Rail services for 20 minutes and an hour at 6am and 9.30am. Eleven people were injured. Two policemen who went to help some of the injured at Lok Ma Chau about 12.30 pm had to be taken to North District Hospital after being attacked by bees from a hive that had fallen from a tree. In a similar incident, a Citybus driver and three pedestrians were stung after a tree with a hive collapsed on to Mount Davis Road, Western. They were treated at Queen Mary Hospital. More than 10 shipping containers were toppled at the river trade terminal in Tuen Mun but no injuries were reported.