02 September 2023

Typhoon Saola makes landfall in China after nearly 900,000 moved to safety

02 September 2023

Typhoon Saola has made landfall in southern China after nearly 900,000 people were moved to safety and most of Hong Kong and parts of the coastal mainland suspended business, transport and classes.

Damage appeared to be minimal and some services were returning to normal by afternoon.

Guangdong province’s meteorological bureau said the powerful storm churned into an outlying district of the city of Zhuhai, just south of Hong Kong, at 3.30am on Saturday.

It was weakening as it moved in a south-westerly direction along the Guangdong coast at about 10mph, prompting Hong Kong to resume flights and subway and train services.

On Friday, 780,000 people in Guangdong were moved away from areas at risk along with 100,000 others in neighbouring Fujian province. More than 80,000 fishing vessels returned to port.

Workers stayed at home and students in various cities saw the start of the school year postponed.

Trading on Hong Kong’s stock market was suspended on Friday and hundreds of people were stranded at the airport after about 460 flights were cancelled in the key regional business and travel hub.

The Hong Kong Observatory had issued a No 10 hurricane alert, the highest warning under the city’s weather system. It was the first No 10 warning since Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit in 2018.

By mid-afternoon, that had been reduced to a Strong Wind Signal No 3, although the observatory warned of continuing rough seas and urged people to stay away from the coastline and refrain from watersports.

The observatory said Saola — with maximum sustained winds of 121mph — came its closest to the financial hub at around 11pm on Friday, skirting about 19 miles south of the city’s Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.

The storm’s eyewall, which surrounds the eye, was moving across the city overnight, “posing a high threat” to the territory, the agency said.

It said, maximum sustained wind speeds had fallen to 90mph by Saturday, morning, and to 47mph later in the day.

In recent months, China has experienced some of its heaviest rains and deadliest flooding in years in various regions, with dozens killed, including in outlying mountainous parts of the capital, Beijing.

The Hong Kong government said various departments received reports of a total of 1,206 uprooted trees and flooding was reported in 18 areas. It said 75 people sought medical treatment at public hospitals while the storm hit the island.

Sixty-three people were reported injured, mostly by falling trees, although none were reported in serious condition.

Parts of Taiwan were already feeling heavy rain and high winds from another storm, Haikui, and dozens of domestic flights were cancelled, along with air services to Hong Kong and Macao.

The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 85mph, gusting at up to 107mph, according to the island’s meteorological bureau.

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