Pakhar lands a second punch on battered Hong Kong, Macau with flight chaos, accidents and business closures
One dead and dozens injured in Hong Kong, while Macau suffers severe flight disruption in second storm to hit cities in a week
Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar barrelled down on Hong Kong and Macau on Sunday, disrupting flights and transport in two cities that had barely recovered from the hammering inflicted by Typhoon Hato last week.
One man was killed in a traffic accident and 62 people were injured in Hong Kong, after the Observatory upgraded the strong wind warning signal to No 8, from No 3, at 5.10am.
A truck overturned on the Yuen Long Highway near the Shenzhen Bay Bridge before 7am. Its driver was thrown from the vehicle and left in a coma at the scene, police said. He died from a severe neck injury at Tuen Mun Hospital. Two passengers suffered minor injuries.
Rescue services plucked 11 sailors from a ship that went down in rough seas 64 nautical miles east of Hong Kong, while 160 firefighters went to the aid of two hikers who were stranded on Kowloon Peak.
Pakhar, named after a freshwater fish that lives in the lower Mekong River, made landfall in Taishan city 142km away in Guangdong province at 9am, with gale-force winds of up to 119km/h. The storm drenched the entire Pearl River Delta region, with Shenzhen reporting 162mm of rain.
In nearby Zhuhai and Zhongshan, authorities ordered factories, markets and schools to shut, while transport services were halted in Jiangmen.
Macau again caught the brunt of the storm. The city had barely recovered from Typhoon Hato, which on Wednesday killed 10 people, injured 244, grounded flights, and cut water and power to much of the city.
The Macau government had sought help from the local garrison of the People’s Liberation Army, stationed there since the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1999. A thousand soldiers helped with the clean-up on Friday and were still on deployment when Pakhar swept by.
Macau officials said eight people suffered minor injuries, and there were 16 reports of flooding, nine cases of fallen objects, 32 reports of toppling signboards, windows and other objects, and one report of a landslide. Around 33 flight departures and 32 arrivals were cancelled.
At the larger Hong Kong International Airport, 677 flights were cancelled or delayed on Sunday, with about 50 planes stuck on the runway at about 11am. At least 42 flights aborted their landings in the storm, half of which were among the 44 flights that had to be diverted to other airfields.
“I cannot believe we have to sit here for so long. They shouldn’t have let us board if they were going to keep us waiting,” said Georgetown University student Cheri Cheung Wing-lam, a passenger on Delta Air Lines’ flight DL38 to Seattle, who was stranded at Hong Kong airport.
“I’m thankful they’re not risking anything and they provided refreshments, but I cannot imagine sitting here for hours.”
Hong Kong airport said it expected to handle 870 flights by the end of the day, with both runways operating overnight.
The Macau observatory lowered its signal to No 3 by 1pm, with Hong Kong following suit at 1.40pm and then lowering it again, to No 1, at 5.40pm. All signals were down by 10.10pm.
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Meanwhile, Macau’s secretary for security, Wong Sio-chak, said the authorities there had acted in accordance with the law in denying at least four Hong Kong journalists, including one from the Post, entry to the city on Saturday on the grounds that they posed a security threat.
“No one likes to be denied entry, no matter what profession you are in,” Wong said. “But please understand that different countries and regions have their own immigration policies, their security policies.”
He declined to say what security threat the journalists posed.
Additional reporting by Hana Davis