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Typhoon Koinu brings Hong Kong to a standstill

By Atlas Shao, Shadow Li and Wang Zhan in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2023-10-09 08:14
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Residents make their way after being affected by Typhoon Koinu in Hong Kong October 8, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

Hong Kong was brought to a standstill on Sunday by Typhoon Koinu — the second severe storm to threaten the city in just over a month — with schools suspended, public transportation halted, and flights grounded.

By 8:40 pm, 10 people — five men and five women — were injured, and 14 reports of fallen trees were recorded, with 162 people seeking refuge at 29 temporary shelters citywide. There were no reports of flooding.

The city's weather watchdog, the Hong Kong Observatory, raised the storm signal No 9 at 7 pm on Sunday night as the eyewall of Typhoon Koinu approached the vicinity of the Pearl River Estuary.

The observatory said it will assess the need for issuing the hurricane signal No 10, depending on changes in local wind conditions.

MTR Corp ended service of above-ground trains after the No 9 signal was hoisted, leaving a large crowd of passengers stranded at the concourses of the Hung Hom, Tai Wai, and Tsuen Wan West stations. Long lines of people waiting for taxis were seen at the stations — with no taxis in sight. There were no shuttle buses provided for stranded passengers as well, with MTR Bus, light rail and open sections of the railway suspended.

After the No 9 signal was hoisted, underground sections of the railway services were maintained at 10- to 18-minute intervals.

MTR said it would provide assistance to passengers affected by the sudden suspension of the service on Sunday evening, and passengers could stay in the stations concourses if necessary until the weather improved. Drinking water and rations would be provided if necessary, the company said, appealing to the passengers' understanding.

At 8:25 pm, the weather watchdog issued an amber rainstorm warning. Shenzhen suspended the operation of the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint after the Shenzhen Bay Bridge, a link between the two cities, was closed when Hong Kong hoisted the No 9 signal.

Meanwhile, about 90 flights were canceled while 130 others were delayed at Hong Kong International Airport.

Citybus eventually suspended all services on daytime routes effective at 2:40 pm, except for Routes B3X and B7 (a direct trip between Fan Ling Station and Heung Yuen Wai Port). The S1 Bus was providing limited services.

Cross-boundary coaches from Lok Ma Chau to Huanggang checkpoint began providing limited services at 1 pm at 30-minute intervals.

Ferry service between Hong Kong Island and outlying islands was halted on Sunday afternoon. Both the Hong Kong-Macao Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan and China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, which operate ferry services to Macao and the Chinese mainland, were temporarily closed.

Sun Ferry's outlying islands and inner harbor ferry routes were suspended after 2 pm, while interisland ferry services stopped operating after 12:15 pm.

The last ferries from Cheung Chau to Central and vice versa departed at 2:30 pm. A Cheung Chau resident who arrived early at the Central pier said the early hoisting of the No 8 storm signal allowed commuters to make alternative public transportation arrangements in advance.

In addition, all vehicles have been barred from using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

Meanwhile, officers of the Fire Services Department and the Civil Aid Service are continuing their search in the extreme weather for a 17-year-old male student who disappeared several days ago.

Macao raised the No 8 typhoon signal at 4:30 pm, and it is expected to remain in effect overnight.

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