Typhoon Nesat targets China

2011-09-29 08:40

Hong Kong - Residents of Hong Kong hunkered down on Thursday as they rode out a powerful typhoon that brought death and destruction when it tore through the Philippines earlier this week.

Hong Kong's stock market suspended trading and shops and businesses shuttered as Typhoon Nesat made its way across the South China Sea from the Philippines, where the storm killed 35 people and that left another 45 missing.

The Asian financial centre's normally bustling streets were eerily quiet, with few people venturing outside to brave the rain and fierce winds.

Two people were injured when bamboo scaffolding was blown over and collapsed onto a taxi, while a man was injured by a falling tree, local broadcaster RTHK said.

A barge ripped free from its moorings and slammed into a seawall on Hong Kong Island, forcing some nearby apartments to be evacuated, news reports said.


The typhoon came closest to Hong Kong at about 11:00, when it was 350km southwest of the city, the Hong Kong Observatory said. It was moving west and expected to reach China's island region of Hainan and Guangdong province on Thursday afternoon or evening, according to the Hainan Meteorological Bureau.

Ferry services in Hainan were halted and the province prepared for possible flooding and mudslides, the bureau reported.

The National Meteorological Centre reported that fishing boats were in port and schools along the coast had been shut in advance of the typhoon, which is the 17th and likely the strongest to hit Hainan this year.

Nesat left devastation in the Philippines, triggering some of the worst flooding in downtown Manila in decades, before blowing out toward southern China with winds of 120km/h.

Floodwaters were receding in most places, but many low-lying communities in the north remained in crisis.

Mayor Santiago Austria of the rice-farming town of Jaen in Nueva Ecija province appealed to the government for help, saying many people in his community of 63 000 needed to be rescued but that officials there had only four rescue boats.

"Many people here are still on top of their houses. We don't have enough boats to reach them and hand them food," Austria said.

In all, nearly 500 000 people were affected by the typhoon in the northern Philippines, of which about 170 000 were forced to flee their homes and were in various evacuation centres. The government says damage to farms and infrastructure is estimated at 1.15 billion pesos ($26m).

Meanwhile, a fresh tropical storm was brewing in the Pacific, Philippine government forecaster Bobby Javier said, adding that it already had sustained winds of 85km/h and gusts up to 100km/h and was expected to strengthen significantly before hitting major parts of the country in the next few days.