Hong Kong felt the full force of the year’s biggest typhoon last night as Typhoon Usagi made landfall east of the territory, with heavy rain and wind gusts up to 100 miles an hour.
The Hong Kong Observatory raised the T8 storm signal, the third highest warning on a five-level scale, and streets emptied as shops and offices closed and residents heeded government advice to stay indoors and take precautions. Flooding was expected in some areas as heavy rain and a storm surge were expected to increase normal sea levels by one metre.
Hundreds of travellers were stranded at Hong Kong International airport after all flights in and out of the territory were cancelled, while ferry services between Hong Kong island, Kowloon and Macau were suspended.
The stock exchange said trading would be suspended this morning if the T8 signal was still in place after 9am, and schools and businesses were also expected to stay closed for the day.
Usagi, meaning “rabbit” in Japanese, had already battered the Philippines and Taiwan on its journey to the former British colony, with winds of up to 150mph leaving two dead and two missing in the Philippines, while nine were injured by falling debris in Taiwan.
At least two people were reported to have been killed in Shantou in Guangdong province, adjacent to Hong Kong, as the storm made landfall. The Xinhua news agency reported that the two were struck by a falling tree after the storm made landfall yesterday evening.
China’s National Meteorological Centre issued a red alert, its highest level, and warned that coastal areas of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces would be affected by the typhoon.