Hong Kong swamped after heaviest rain in 140 years

Schools closed and people urged to stay at home as rain causes havoc across the hilly and densely-populated territory.

Hong Kong has been deluged with the heaviest rain in 140 years, causing widespread flooding in the densely populated and hilly Chinese territory.

Authorities shut schools “due to extreme conditions” and told workers to stay at home on Friday as streets, shopping malls and metro stations were submerged. The city’s cross-harbour tunnel, a key link between Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, was also inundated with water, and landslide warnings were issued for some areas.

The Hong Kong Observatory, the city’s weather agency, reported hourly rainfall of 158.1 millimetres at its headquarters in the hour leading up to midnight (16:00 GMT), the highest since records began in 1884.

“Heavy rain will bring flash floods,” the observatory warned. “Residents living in close proximity to rivers should stay alert to weather conditions and should consider evacuation” if their homes were flooded, it added.

People crowded onto an upper floor walkway of a shopping centre as the floor below them floods
Water cascaded into shopping centres in the densely-populated city [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
People walking through floods waters in Hong Kong
People struggled through rain and flooding as authorities closed schools because of the ‘extreme’ weather [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

The territory’s chief executive John Lee said he was very concerned about the severe flooding, and that he had instructed all departments to respond with “all-out efforts”.

The weather bureau issued the highest “black” rainstorm warning and said the extreme conditions were expected to continue until at least noon (04:00 GMT) on Friday.

Earlier in the week, Typhoon Haikui left a trail of destruction in Taiwan before crossing the strait and making landfall in China’s Fujian province on Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s observatory said the latest torrential rain was brought by the “trough of low pressure associated with [the] remnant of Haikui”.

Southern China was hit the previous weekend by two typhoons in quick succession – Saola and Haikui – although Hong Kong avoided a direct hit.

Climate change has increased the intensity of tropical storms, with more rain and stronger winds leading to flash floods and coastal damage, according to experts.

A flooded street in Hong Kong with high rises on each side
The weather agency said the rain was the result of a trough of low pressure from the ‘remnant’ of Typhoon Haikui [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
Source: News Agencies