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Tuesday September 24, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday September 24, 2013 MYT 6:50:27 AM
HONG KONG: Typhoon Usagi killed at least 25 people after crashing ashore in southern China, throwing the region’s transport systems into chaos and leaving tens of thousands of airline passengers stranded in Hong Kong.
Schools and businesses were shut yesterday as activity in the normally teeming financial hub slowed to a crawl after Usagi – the world’s most powerful storm this year – battered a long swathe of coastline with torrential rain and winds of up to 165kph during the night.
The deaths were reported by Chinese state media after Usagi made landfall near Shanwei city in Guangdong province northeast of Hong Kong on Sunday evening, prompting the highest-level alert from the National Meteorological Center.
The reports by Xinhua news agency did not say how the 25 were killed but said all the deaths were in Guangdong after the typhoon brought down trees and damaged roads. Dozens more were injured in accidents, it added.
Bullet trains from Guangzhou city to Beijing were suspended and Xinhua said winds were strong enough near Shanwei to blow cars off the road. More than 47,000 fishing boats were in harbour and schools were closed in 14 coastal cities.
Usagi had previously killed two people in the Philippines and unleashed landslides and power outages across southern Taiwan at the weekend as it ploughed through the Luzon Strait with ferocious winds and heavy downpours.
Monsoon rains worsened by Usagi caused flooding yesterday at the Philippine capital Manila and nearby provinces.
As the typhoon bore down on Hong Kong, operators shut down one of the world’s busiest sea ports and nearly 450 flights were either cancelled or delayed on Sunday as Cathay Pacific and other airlines imposed preemptive suspensions.
Hong Kong’s Observatory said it was the strongest typhoon to brush the city since 1979. Tens of thousands of people had their travel plans upended with ferries and trains also disrupted, while Cathay resumed flights only from yesterday noon.
Many passengers were forced to stay overnight at the airport, sleeping on the floor or spending the night playing card games. Many milled around the departure hall hoping to rebook their flights.
But handwritten signs warned them that there was little chance of getting standby seats on flights out yesterday and to check back later.
“We’ve waited for so long... and we still can’t leave. Who would not be unhappy?” said 26-year-old Iris Ouyang from Beijing. — AFP
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