September 17, 2018 – Hong Kong is counting the costs of Mangkhut after the super typhoon pounded the city yesterday, injuring hundreds of people and leaving a trail of damaged buildings, fallen trees, flooded areas and large-scale transport disruptions.
The Hurricane Signal No. 10 — the strongest alert under Hong Kong’s storm warning system — was in force for about ten hours on Sunday after it was raised shortly before 10 am, bringing the city to a complete shutdown.
At 7.40 am yesterday, the Observatory replaced the No. 8 signal with No. 9 alert, before raising it further to the peak level of 10 two hours later. It marked the second consecutive year that Hong Kong was forced to issue the No. 10 warning after Typhoon Hato battered the city in August 2017.
The highest typhoon signal was not lowered until 7:40 pm after Mangkhut made landfall over the coast to the west of the Pearl River Estuary.
By then, Mangkhut had already left a swathe of destruction across the city, with many Hongkongers saying that it was the worst typhoon they had ever witnessed, with some high-rise buildings swaying due to the gale-force winds.
At its strongest, Mangkhut packed sustained winds of up to 189 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 256 kilometers per hour, toppling a crane, scaffolding, trees, signposts and more, as it skirted about 100 kilometers south of the city.
The distance made it one of the two most distant typhoons that ever triggered Signal No. 10 in Hong Kong after Typhoon Vicente in 2012.
Low-lying areas, including Lei Yue Mun, Heng Fa Chuen in Chai Wan, and Tai O were seriously flooded, and some people who live in tall residential towers claimed they could feel their buildings shaking.
According to the government, as of 5:20 am Monday a total of 1,539 people had sought refuge at temporary shelters that were opened by the Home Affairs Department.
Meanwhile, 391 people, including 219 men and 172 women, have sought medical treatment at the accident and emergency services wards at public hospitals during the typhoon period.
As of 9 pm Sunday, the 1823 Government Call Centre received 262 reports of fallen trees, while the Drainage Services Department received 46 confirmed flooding cases as of early Monday.
The Civil Engineering and Development Department and Lands Department received one report of landslide.
In a statement issued soon after midnight, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed her gratitude to personnel who, during the passage of the typhoon, provided rescue and other emergency services, handled emergencies and maintained necessary public services to citizens.
The government will mobilize resources and join hands with relevant organizations to clear roads and streets, remove fallen trees and objects, and repair damaged facilities, with a view to returning the city back to normal as soon as possible, Lam said.
At the same time, the chief executive said she hopes the public understands that the work may take some time and that people may have to put with some inconveniences for a while.
At 5.20 am Monday, the Observatory issued the No. 3 signal, replacing the No. 8 that had been in force since 7.40 pm the previous night.
But many bus operations remained suspended in the morning, and ferry operators were also running limited services.
Bus operators said they were playing safe as the roads need to be cleared of fallen trees and there were also some other road safety issues.
MTR Corp, the city’s sole rail operator, revealed that a number of ground sections of its service lines were affected by fallen trees and objects. With recovery and clean-up efforts underway, services are slowly limping back to normal.
As for air transport, Mangkhut caused 889 inbound and outbound flights to be suspended on Sunday, leaving about 300 passengers stranded at the Hong Kong International Airport, which was luckily not damaged with no flooding seen in the runways.
The Marine Department announced Monday morning that that the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, and the Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal in Tuen Mun have been reopened.
The Education Bureau announced that classes were suspended in all schools on Monday as a precautionary measure.
The Observatory, which hoisted the strong wind signal No. 3 early Monday, said the signal will remain in force for a period of time, and advised the public to stay cautious.