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Hong Kong on lockdown as Typhoon Mangkhut arrives


34 people reported injured so far; weather authority issues highest typhoon warning: a signal No. 10

Typhoon Mangkhut continued wreaking havoc, belting Hong Kong with mammoth gales and rain, as it moved along the coast of China’s Guangdong province following its deadly visit through the Philippines.

Heavy winds blew out apartment building windows and toppled trees across the city, local media reported. The Hospital Authority said 34 people were injured as of 12 p.m. Hong Kong time. The death toll in the Philippines from the storm hit 25, the government said.

In Hong Kong, images of a residential apartment and an office building with their windows blown out circulated on social media. Fallen trees forced closures of roads and tunnels, local media reported.

Hong Kong issued its highest warning as a weakened though still dangerous Typhoon Mangkhut bears down on China’s Guangdong province, after leaving a path of destruction across the northern Philippines. Most Hong Kong flights were canceled and some rail service was halted as the storm approached.

Emirates, Etihad cancel flights to and from Hong Kong 

The typhoon’s top winds declined to about 167 kilometers per hour, according to the U.S. Navy and Air Force’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii. Mangkhut’s structure will be ripped by wind shear, weakening its top winds as it approaches the coast to Hong Kong’s west.

The weather authority issued its highest typhoon warning – a signal 10, warning residents to rush preparations and brace for high winds.

In Macau, the government on Saturday night suspended all casino operations as Mangkhut approached, saying it would review the suspension once the typhoon had passed.

High-speed rail service was suspended in the province, and workers took precautionary measures at two nuclear plants along the coastline.

“The forecast is certainly much more favorable for Hong Kong than it was two or three days ago,” said Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist at Aon Benfield Analytics in Chicago.

Economic losses in Hong Kong and across China could reach $50 billion on top of the $16 billion to $20 billion it probably exacted in the Philippines, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler for Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. The impact in the Philippines could be between 5 to 6 percent of its gross domestic product.

The costs could rise if Mangkhut’s track shifts to make a direct hit on Hong Kong, though Watson said the storm does not appear to be closing in there.

Almost 1 million people along Mangkhut’s path live in coastal areas or have homes made of light materials, Edgar Posadas, spokesman of the disaster-monitoring agency, said earlier.

Travel Disrupted

Throughout the region, airlines had canceled at least 1,339 flights through the next 48 hours, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based tracking service. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said in a statement it will ground 400 flights in the next three days. Its unit Cathay Dragon said it won’t be flying Sunday.

AirAsia Group Bhd had canceled at least 22 flights as of Saturday morning, upsetting travelers from Manila to Shenzhen and Macau, according to a Facebook post.

Philippines Airlines Inc. scrapped 41 Saturday flights, including those to Hangzhou and Tokyo, it said on Facebook.

Mangkhut could affect as many as 30.5 million people across Asia, according to the United Nations Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. About 20 cyclones pass through disaster-prone Philippines each year. Super Typhoon Haiyan, which packed winds of 315 kilometers an hour, killed more than 6,300 people there in 2013.

 





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