Hong Kong came to a standstill Friday as Typhoon Haima hits southern China, with businesses, schools and the stock market closed and flights canceled.
The T8 warning — the third-strongest classification in Hong Kong’s system — was hoisted at 6.10am Friday, and remained in force until 5.20pm, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
The observatory raised the T3 in its place, as Haima weakened to a severe tropical storm. The storm was estimated to be about 180 kilometers north-northeast of Hong Kong as of 6pm and is forecast to move north at about 25km/h into inland Guangdong and weaken gradually.
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited said the morning trading in its securities market, including Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect trading, and derivatives market has been delayed.
The Airport Authority said 689 flights had been cancelled or delayed as of 6.30am. It added that passengers should check schedules before heading to the airport.
“We understand that the flight disruptions are likely to cause inconvenience and our staff are trying very hard to provide alternative flight arrangements for affected passengers,” a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific, the city’s main carrier, said in a statement.
The Education Bureau announced the suspension of classes in all day schools. Also banks and government services, including the courts and the immigration department, were closed for the day.
Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Department has opened 20 temporary shelters in various districts, with dozens of people seeking refuge, CNN said.
Also authorities in Guangdong province have activated high-level emergency response due to the approaching typhoon, with trains suspending service and airline cancellations. Waves up to six meters high were expected off Guangdong on Friday, state media Xinhua reported. Mainland China stock markets remained open.
Taiwanese airlines also said flights had been cancelled.
According to an earlier forecast track, Haima came closest to Hong Kong around noon, after battering parts of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the death toll is rising in the Philippines where the typhoon has destroyed tens of thousands of homes, Reuters reports. Typhoon Haima, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines in three years, killed at least 12 people, officials in Manila said on Friday.