Destructive typhoon heads for Hong Kong
Typhoon Chanchu barrelled towards Hong Kong and southern China on Tuesday after claiming at least 41 lives in the Philippines and becoming the strongest storm on record to enter the South China sea in May.
At 4pm local time, Chanchu was centred about 480km south of Hong Kong and was moving north at 18kph towards the city and southern China’s Guangdong province, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
In Hong Kong, signs that warned residents to prepare for a possible typhoon could be seen outside ferry terminals and in office buildings.
Although the air was still calm with only thin drizzle on Tuesday afternoon, officials at the observatory predicted stronger winds and heavy rains later on Tuesday or Wednesday morning, when it would consider raising its alert level.
“The intensity of the typhoon remains at 130kph. So it’s a very intense typhoon.
We expect local wind to strengthen gradually today,” said Pon Hoi-to, senior scientific officer at the observatory.
“The outer rain bands of Chanchu are now quite close to Hong Kong. So we are expecting squally heavy showers to set in later today. The weather will be worse tomorrow with heavy rain and squalls.”
The coastal regions between Shenzhen and Raoping county could take the brunt of the typhoon when Chanchu makes landfall, expected to be on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning, according to the meteorological station in Guangzhou.
But it may also bypass Guangdong province and move towards Fujian province or the Taiwan Strait instead, said Huang Zhong, chief weather at the Guangzhou station, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said the typhoon will bring high winds off Guangdong province as well as rain storms in most parts of the area and south of the Pearl River Delta starting on Tuesday night.
Hainan province has already called off passenger transport between the island province and Guangdong by sea and by rail.
In Hong Kong, officials have cautioned people living in wooden huts and in low-lying areas to take precautions against strong winds and flooding. They also advised residents to stay away from the shoreline and avoid water sports as well as warned small vessels to seek shelter as soon as possible.
Due to large waves in some areas, the lifesaving services at several beaches have also been suspended.
Chanchu hit the central Philippines over the weekend where 13 people were still reported missing, triggering landslides and widespread flooding, and forcing more than 42 000 people to evacuate their homes.
Hong Kong regularly suffers torrential rain and flooding from typhoons that normally occur between May and November each year.
The most devastating in Hong Kong’s recorded history was the “Great Typhoon” of September 1937, which sank thousands of junks and cargo boats and killed more than 10 000 people.
One of the worst in more recent history was Typhoon Wanda, in 1962, which claimed more than 130 lives, left dozens more missing and wrecked about 1 000 boats and ships.—AFP