Hong Kong shuts down as typhoon Haima nears

Hong Kong, Oct 21 (IANS) Hong Kong was shut down on Friday due to the arrival of typhoon Haima, the most powerful tropical storm of the season that has already caused several deaths in the Philippines with winds up to 145 km.

The Hong Kong Observatory issued a level-8 storm warning, the third-highest warning, EFE news reported.

The risk of strong winds, rains and landslides in mountainous areas has left the city paralysed.

Schools were closed, as well as government offices, courts and banks. The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong suspended its session in the morning and it is still unknown whether the market will resume operations in the afternoon.

More than 690 flights have been cancelled or delayed and subway systems are only partially in service. All buses and other public transport have been cancelled, including ferries connecting the mainland with other islands.

“According to the present forecast track, Haima will be closest to Hong Kong around noon, skirting about 100 km to the east of the territory,” the Observatory announced.

Authorities have opened 20 emergency shelters.

Haima arrives in Hong Kong after battering the Philippines, where it left a wave of destruction in its wake. Amid the impending arrival of Haima, the Chinese region has suffered torrential rains, floods and landslides.