This story has been made freely available as a public service to our readers. Please consider supporting SCMP’s journalism by subscribing . An air-and-land search was under way on Wednesday afternoon for a woman who was swept away by flash floods while hiking along a stream in a Hong Kong country park as a red rainstorm warning was in force. The woman in her fifties was hiking with her friend – a middle-aged man – along Wang Chung Stream in Pat Sin Leng Country Park, off Bride’s Pool Road in Tai Po, when the mishap occurred soon after 12.30pm. The pair set off from Bride’s Pool Road at about 9.30am, 15 minutes before the Observatory issued an amber rainstorm warning at 9.45am. It was raised to red after an hour at 10.45am. The forecaster had warned that heavy rain might bring about flash floods and people should stay away from watercourses. “When the pair reached a waterfall, they changed into swimming suits and then went into the water to swim,” a law enforcement source said, adding that at about 12.30pm, flash floods rushed down from the stream and swept the woman away. A massive search, involving dozens of rescuers such as firefighters and divers from the Fire Services Department, was launched when the woman’s friend called the police at 12.39pm. As of 8pm, a police spokesman said the search, involving the deployment of a helicopter from the Government Flying Service, was still under way. Another source said the woman might have been swept along the stream into Plover Cove Reservoir where a team of officers was deployed to carry out a search. According to the Fire Services Department, officers from its diving unit and the mountain search and rescue team were deployed in the Tai Po search. Six fire engines and an ambulance were dispatched to the scene. A landslide at 12.35pm in the Pak Tam Au area of Sai Kung blocked Pak Tam Road and triggered a separate search-and-rescue operation by firefighters. What’s wrong with Hong Kong’s weather? The effects of climate change A government spokeswoman said the landslide covered an area spanning 20 metres by 40 metres. A fire services spokesman said 11 appliances and three ambulances were sent to the scene in Sai Kung. Officers from the department’s urban search and rescue team were also deployed with a rescue dog. According to the Transport Department, all lanes of Pak Tam Road near Pak Tam Au were closed to traffic due to the landslide. “Members of the public are advised to avoid going to the affected area,” the government said in a statement. The city was hit by worsening weather on Wednesday morning, with a red rainstorm warning triggering the suspension of afternoon classes. The warning signal was later lowered to amber at 4.15pm before it was cancelled at 5.15pm. The Education Bureau earlier announced that afternoon sessions in schools would be suspended, while morning classes and whole-day schools would continue. Registration for Primary One students placed through central allocation, which would have taken place on Wednesday and Thursday, has been postponed to Thursday and Friday. “Further heavy rain could cause … serious road flooding and traffic congestion and could disrupt normal school hours,” the Observatory said in the morning. “Heavy rain will bring flash floods, and flooding is occurring or is expected to occur in watercourses.” The coast of Guangdong was affected by a trough of low pressure, the forecaster said, which would lead to heavy showers and squally thunderstorms in the region throughout the week. “People should stay away from watercourses. Residents living in close proximity to rivers should stay alert to weather conditions and should consider evacuation if their homes may become flooded,” the forecaster said. Meanwhile, a waterspout, which is a fast-rotating air column above water that extends down from the base of clouds, was also spotted at Cheung Chau at about 10.30am. Acting senior scientific officer Or Ming-keung explained that waterspouts, which were last seen in May 2021, would last for 20 minutes at most and dissipate quickly if they moved inland. “Waterspouts may appear during unstable weather conditions. For example, like this time, we are affected by a trough of low pressure,” he said. “People will first see a funnel cloud, which will lead to a waterspout near the sea or land. This time, the waterspout was formed near the sea.” The city’s rainstorm warning system comprises three levels – amber, red and black, with black the most serious. A red signal indicates heavy rain exceeding 50 millimetres per hour has fallen or is expected to fall over the city and is likely to continue. The last red rainstorm warning occurred on May 13 and classes were also called off.