Severe typhoon hits Hong Kong
Tropical cyclone warning raised to its highest level, grounding flights and disrupting businesses across financial hub.
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2012 02:05
Storm surges and sea wave warnings have been heightened, with winds of up to 100 kph expected [AFP]

A severe typhoon has hit Hong Kong, disrupting business across the financial hub, with offices and the stock market to remain closed for at least part of the morning after the city raised its highest typhoon warning overnight.

Typhoon Vicente battered Hong Kong with gale-force winds and torrential rain, grounding flights and shutting port operations on Tuesday.

Authorities raised the No. 10 tropical cyclone signal for several hours overnight, making this one of the strongest
typhoons to hit the city in the past decade.

Al Jazeera's Stephanie Scawen, reporting from Hong Kong, said "heavy rain is coming through" the financial hub, and is expected to last "probably for a few days".

Highest warning level

Financial markets, schools, businesses and non-essential government services close when a No. 8 signal or above is
hoisted, posing a disruption to business in the capitalist hub and former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

By 8am local time (00:00 GMT), the typhoon was veering away from the city and weakening, although the No. 8 signal is expected to remain in force until at least 10am (02:00 GMT), the Hong Kong Observatory said, which would force a closure of the stock market for the morning.

Hong Kong Observatory raised the No. 10 signal early on Tuesday as typhoon Vicente swept closer to Hong Kong [Reuters]

The market will be closed for the day if the No. 8 signal remains in place until noon (04:00 GMT), after it dropped three per cent on Monday.

Separately, China's National Meteorological Centre issued an orange alert for Typhoon Vicente, the second highest warning level in China's four-tier typhoon warning system, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Strengthening gale-force winds overturned trees, churned up huge waves in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour and sent debris
flying, injuring some 30 people as Vicente hit the city and the western reaches of China's Guangdong province.

Fifteen flights were cancelled and more than 200 delayed late on Monday, aviation authorities said, although Hong Kong's
main carrier Cathay Pacific said it planned to resume some flights.

The Hong Kong Observatory raised the No. 10 signal early on Tuesday as typhoon Vicente swept much closer to Hong Kong than initially thought, making this the first time the highest typhoon signal had been raised since 1999.

More than 30,000 Chinese fishing boats were alerted to return to harbour, with 10,560 fishermen taking shelter ashore
in Guangdong, Chinese state media reported. Storm surges and sea wave warnings were heightened, with winds of up to 100 kph expected.


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