Typhoon roars toward south mainland coast

HONG KONG, Reuters

Typhoon Yutu, packing winds of up to 150 km per hour (94 mph) and heavy rain, took aim at the south mainland China coast on Wednesday after injuring 10 people and disrupting transport in Hong Kong.

The storm was expected to make landfall on Thursday morning in mainland China’s densely-populated Guangdong province, about 200 km (125 miles) west of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Yutu was about 190 km (119 miles) southwest of Hong Kong at 4:00 p.m. (0800 GMT) and moving west or west-northwest at about 16 km per hour (10 mph).

“It’s expected to make landfall in the west of Guangdong after midnight,” an official at the Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Bureau told Reuters.

Guangdong cities likely to be affected included Zhanjiang, Yangjiang and Maoming, where mainland China’s second largest refinery Maoming Petrochemical Corp. is based, he said. The refinery is a subsidiary of oil major Sinopec Corp.

An official at the Guangdong Flood-Control office in Guangzhou declined comment.

Typhoon signal eight — indicating expected gale or storm force winds of 63-117 km/h (39-73 mph) — was lowered in Hong Kong at 7.40 p.m. after being hoisted since midnight.

Scattered showers hit the territory in the morning and afternoon along with gusty winds.

The 10 injured were all admitted to hospitals and four of them had been discharged, the Hong Kong government said.

All land transport services have resumed operations.

The Hong Kong Observatory said there would be occasional squalls and heavy rains later in the day which could cause flooding in low lying areas. More details can be found on the Observatory Web site (www.weather.gov.hk).

About 131 passenger flights and 23 cargo flights had been delayed, and 24 passenger flights and five cargo flights had been canceled by 7:00 p.m. (1100 GMT).

Limited ferry services between Hong Kong and its outlying islands would resume from 8.45 p.m.

Schools, banks and some government offices in the Asian financial center were closed.

Trading in local stocks and other financial markets was canceled for the day.

Streets in the normally bustling territory were eerily empty but shopping malls and dim sum restaurants, favorite retreats for Hong Kongers, were packed with people enjoying the day off.

Some taxi drivers were asking double the normal fare.

By 7.30 p.m., 164 people had sought refuge at 30 temporary shelters, but the storm was no deterrent to a daring few on the waterfront of usually busy Victoria Harbor or surfers at several local beaches.

“There’s nowhere else to go so I came here to fish,” said a man who spent the morning by a ferry pier in central Hong Kong, where waves pounded concrete retaining walls.