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HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong shut down Tuesday as Typhoon Nida brought violent winds and torrential rain, with hundreds of flights cancelled and the stock market, schools and businesses closed, as the storm headed across southern China.
Gusts of 151 kilometers (93 miles) per hour whipped the city and rain lashed down during the night, and authorities warned of floods and landslides.
Streets were deserted Tuesday morning as school was suspended and workers stayed at home, with buses and trains operating only a very limited service.
Hundreds of flights were axed after the storm swept past Hong Kong late Monday evening.
An airport authority spokesman told AFP only 200 flights will run between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm local time on Tuesday On a normal day, the airport would handle 1,100 flights. More than 150 flights had already been cancelled Monday as Nida approached, leaving stranded passengers to sleep on the floor in the departure hall.
“I came here at 6 am but the counters have closed … there have been no notifications at all,” one passenger bound for Australia told Now TV.
Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair cancelled all of their flights in and out of Hong Kong for 16 hours, from 10:00 pm Monday until 2:00 pm Tuesday. The stock market shut for the morning as the Typhoon 8 storm signal – the third-highest category – remained in place.
China on red alert
Southern China hunkered down as it braced for Nida to make landfall later Tuesday, with the city of Guangzhou issuing its first-ever red storm alert.
Anyone living in the storm’s projected path were told to prepare three days’ worth of food and other essentials, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
“It’s the strongest typhoon to hit the Pearl River Delta since 1983 and will bring severe flooding,” Xinhua cited local official He Guoqing as saying. Guangdong province also issued red alerts – the highest in China’s four-tier, color-coded warning system. Shenzhen, where Xinhua reported the storm hit at 03:30 am, issued a yellow one, the third most severe.