Downpour sparks landslides and floods amid amber warning

More than 100mm of rain drenched Stanley and other parts of Hong Kong yesterday, toppling trees, flooding streets and causing landslides.

The heavy rain triggered an amber rainstorm warning at 7.10am, and 30mm of rainfall had been recorded by 8am. The warning was cancelled just before noon.

Two landslides were reported: a small one at Barker Road on The Peak; and a more serious slip in Sha Tin, which left a gaping 10-metre-by-3-metre hole in a retaining wall. No one was injured in either.

Residents of Sheung Wo Che village in Sha Tin were evacuated after the retaining wall collapsed during the rainstorm. Rescuers deployed a life detector to search for possible victims trapped beneath the mud and rocks, but no one was found.

A landslip warning was in force between 9am and 2pm, spurring the Home Affairs Department's Emergency Co-ordination Centre into action.

A government spokesman said 15 cases of flooding were reported by 2.42pm with affected areas including Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan and Stubbs Road. There were at least 22 reports of toppled trees.

The downpours affected events throughout the city, as outdoor venues were closed and activities cancelled. The 8am flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai was called off. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department also announced the cancellation of the Tom Lee Music Carnival, which was scheduled for yesterday afternoon at the Cultural Centre piazza area in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Alerts were also posted at popular beaches warning swimmers of big waves. Red flags were hoisted at Stanley Main Beach, Turtle Cove Beach, Shek O Beach and Big Wave Bay Beach. Swimmers were also advised against visiting Clear Water Bay First and Second beaches in Sai Kung.

Hong Kong Observatory senior scientific officer Tam Cheuk-ming said the inclement weather will continue in the coming few days with scattered, squally thunderstorms.

However, it is uncertain how this will affect outdoor events slated for this week. Scheduled outdoor activities include the Cheung Chau bun scrambling competition on Thursday, in which competitors scale a 14-metre tower covered with buns, which will be plastic for the first time this year.

The annual Cheung Chau tradition is a popular festival that attracts crowds of onlookers. Buns gathered from higher up the tower carry more points for the scramblers than those positioned lower.

Yesterday's rain had eased off by the afternoon, allowing some participants to have a practice run on the bun tower.

The downpour was blamed on a trough of low pressure, which brought rainfall to southern coastal areas of the mainland, the government said.