Wrath of Mangkhut to test readiness of Hong Kong
With the super typhoon set to roar in, it is good to hear that the government is preparing for a worst-case scenario, and the public must also take precautions
How often has Hong Kong been able to brace and buttress itself against an approaching typhoon while the Philippines absorbs the initial brunt of an awesome force of nature generated far off in the ocean?
It is an accident of geography that is repeating itself today as Super Typhoon Mangkhut expends some of its destructive energy on the northern and most heavily populated Philippine island of Luzon before heading for China.
Despite uncertainty about its subsequent track and its distance from Hong Kong, Mangkhut’s huge radius will pose a threat to a long stretch of coast, including that of the city.
The Observatory warns that while its track and wind strength near the centre may change under the influence of the terrain of Luzon, Mangkhut will remain a super typhoon after entering the South China Sea from the Pacific Ocean.
The city’s history of death and destruction from typhoons is reason enough for extensive official safety checks and contingency plans for Sunday, and grave warnings to the public on necessary precautions to be taken for their own and others’ safety. How much worse it might have been on occasion in the past but for the misfortune of the Philippines, or Taiwan, to absorb some of the destructive force.
That said, on this occasion, we must be prepared for any eventuality regardless. After all, Mangkhut could do anything once it clears Luzon.
It is good to hear therefore that the government is preparing for a worst-case scenario and has alerted all departments accordingly. For example, it has strengthened the embankment protecting the tourist fishing village of Tai O on western Lantau Island from storm surge and there are plans to evacuate 300-400 residents by coach; and inspectors have checked 150 drainage hotspots, and 200 slopes known to have caused problems in the past.
Even if the new Hong Kong -Zhuhai-Macau bridge were already open to traffic, it would be closed on Sunday, when a typhoon signal No 8 is expected to be issued. But officials will be monitoring its structural integrity closely during what is predicted to be one of the most powerful super typhoons in the city’s history.