A major clean-up was being conducted in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and other cities along the Guangdong coast in southeast China on Saturday after Typhoon Saola swept through overnight.
Initially packing winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph), the typhoon’s strength weakened slightly by the time it crossed the coast near Zhuhai city early on Saturday, with winds then of about 160 kph.
The mass evacuation of about 900,000 people in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, with efficient early warning systems and shutting down of many schools and businesses may have helped avoid mass casualties. Just one death had been recorded early on Saturday after a tree fell on a car in Shenzhen.
But the storm, one of the strongest to threaten the region in over 70 years, left a trail of destruction and flooded many areas as violent winds lashed Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau. The economic damage could be significant.
Officials in Hong Kong, the Asian financial hub, and Guangdong, its neighbouring populous province, cancelled hundreds of flights on Friday and shut businesses, schools and financial markets as Saola had edged closer.
Railway operations in Guangdong were allowed to gradually resume from 8:30am (0030 GMT), the railway operator said.
Despite weakening, Saola continues to affect the region, Chinese authorities said, as it moves towards Taiwan’s eastern coast.
More than 300 people were stranded at Hong Kong’s airport after some 460 flights were cancelled, the city’s Airport Authority said.
Flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said flights would resume from noon (0400 GMT) on Saturday after being suspended since Friday afternoon.
Hong Kong imposed its highest hurricane storm signal 10 on Friday night, lowering it to 8 by Saturday morning. The city’s observatory said it would remain in force until 4pm (0800 GMT) as heavy rain and flooding were still affecting the territory.
Fallen trees were strewn over many roads, particularly in the more exposed outlying islands. In the bustling Causeway Bay district many building signs had flown off.
A large window was blown out of an office building in the Tseung Kwan O district, footage from broadcaster TVB showed.
Photos posted on Facebook showed water levels at Repulse Bay beach surging several metres higher than normal level, partially submerging its landmark Tin Hau temple.
More than 500 people sought refuge in government shelters while more than 50 people were admitted to hospitals due to the typhoon, the government said.
In Macau, the world’s biggest gambling centre, casinos were allowed to reopen from 8am on Saturday, the government said, after shutting Friday night.
One person was killed in Shenzhen after a tree fell and hit their vehicle, local media reported.
Haikui, a typhoon not as strong as Saola, was forecast to make landfall on Taiwan’s far southeastern coast late on Sunday afternoon and bring heavy rain across the island into next week.
Taiwan’s two main domestic airlines cancelled all flights for Sunday, and the government warned people to stay away from beaches and mountain areas.
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