Typhoon Mangkhut: classes at all Hong Kong schools to resume on Wednesday after two days of cleaning and maintenance
City getting back on its feet after most powerful storm on record hit on Sunday
Classes will resume at all Hong Kong schools on Wednesday, according to the Education Bureau, after two days of cleaning and maintenance work on campuses in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut.
Issuing a statement at 11.37am on Tuesday, the bureau’s spokesman added that if any school needed to continue to suspend classes, it must seek the advice of the bureau’s regional office and inform teachers, parents and students. Schools had been closed for two days, since Monday.
Any parents who found it too dangerous for their children to go to school could also keep them at home. Schools should not punish pupils who could not attend classes or who were late because of transport reasons, he said.
Meanwhile, volunteers from the Methodist Church distributed about 10,000 lunchboxes originally meant for schoolchildren to Tai Po residents, especially elderly ones, as classes remained suspended on Tuesday.
A church spokeswoman said a food recycling organisation had told them about the availability of freshly prepared lunchboxes, which had been ordered by schools for their students.
At about 10am, elderly residents began lining up at Tai Po Methodist Kindergarten, where they were given a queue number, so they could return at 11am to collect the food.
The spokeswoman said that as the lunchboxes were meant for pupils, the portions were small, so the volunteers handed out four or five boxes to each resident.
The city continued to recover from Mangkhut’s impact on Tuesday, with about 40 bus routes suspended and about 20 main roads still closed. Several communities had limited or no bus services, including The Peak, parts of Southern District and Braemar Hill on Hong Kong Island, and Sai Sha Road in Sai Kung.
Main roads that remained closed included the slow eastbound lane of Queen's Road East Central near Stubbs Road and all lanes of a section of Victoria Road on Hong Kong Island; the San Tin section of Castle Peak Road and San Tin Highway in the New Territories, part of Ching Cheung Road, Prince Edward Road West, Argyle Street, the eastbound lanes on Boundary Street, and a section of Canton Road in Kowloon.
The Transport Department said it aimed to clear these roads, many of which were blocked by fallen trees, by Wednesday, adding that most of the city’s major roads had been cleared of obstacles.
Apart from the usual traffic jam at Hung Hom and Wan Chai, Sha Tin, Yuen Long and the West Kowloon Highway were the most congested areas on Tuesday morning.
The Transport Department said that because of heavy traffic, Tsing Long Highway and Yuen Long Highway Tai Lam Tunnel-bound were busy.
“Motorists passing through the above section of road are advised to drive with utmost care and patience,” a spokesman said.
The line of vehicles extended more than 8km at one point.
At Tai Wai station, where chaos reigned on Monday morning, the flow of passengers appeared to have returned to normal on on Tuesday morning. Trains arrived every two to three minutes.
Civil servant Jenny Chu, 33, had waited three hours at the station on Monday to get a train to Mong Kok.
“Yesterday, I was asked to go from platform No 2 to No 1, then No 2 again, then finally No 1,” she said. “But today I could take the train as usual.”
Eddy Chan, who is about 40 years old, agreed that conditions at the station had improved, though like Chu, he observed that there were more passengers than usual.
“I usually take the bus, but [I took the train today] as bus services haven’t fully resumed,” he said, adding that he walked 15 minutes to work from Tai Wai to Sha Tin on Monday, after seeing the scene at the station.
A 65-year-old woman surnamed Leung, who was unable to get to work in Kwun Tong because of the congestion, said: “The government should tell the public earlier about the traffic problems and ask people to stop working for half a day to avoid such chaos.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor came under fire on Monday for underestimating the chaos at major MTR train stations due to widespread destruction brought by Mangkhut. The typhoon is the city’s strongest storm on record and toppled about 1,500 trees, damaged 170 sets of traffic lights and injured hundreds of people.
The Transport Department said service had resumed on most of the city’s 640 bus routes. But a large number of routes still had to be diverted because of road conditions, while 39 routes remained suspended due to fallen trees and other obstacles.
MTR trains, including the East Rail and Light Rail, had resumed normal services by Tuesday morning.
For ferries, First Ferry services between North Point and Kowloon City had resumed, but would not stop at Hung Hom.
First Ferry’s inter-islands route, sailing between Peng Chau and Cheung Chau, and between Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan on Lantau, was expected to resume service on Tuesday morning.
Additional reporting by Peace Chiu