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Typhoon shuts down Hong Kong with strong winds, rain

Update: September, 16/2014 - 10:21

HONG KONG — Hong Kong was shuttered on Tuesday as a powerful typhoon swept past the city, bringing strong winds and rain that caused flight disruptions and forced the closure of the stock market and container ports.

Typhoon Kalmaegi, packing gusts of 125km per hour, was centred 400km southwest of Hong Kong as it barrelled towards the northern tip of China's Hainan island.

"Although Kalmaegi is moving away, occasional gales will still affect the southwestern part and high ground of Hong Kong," the Hong Kong Observatory said on its website.

The Observatory hoisted the number-eight tropical cyclone warning on Monday evening, triggering the closure of schools and businesses in the city. It was lowered to a number-three strong wind signal late on Tuesday morning.

Twenty-five people have sought treatment for typhoon-related injuries, the city's Hospital Authority said.

At Hong Kong's airport, over 500 flights were delayed while nearly 40 were cancelled, a government statement said.

It said that there were 44 reports of fallen trees and that some parts of the city were flooded, but there were no reports of landslides.

The Hong Kong stock exchange cancelled its morning trading session but said it would reopen if the number-eight warning – the third in a five-tier warning system – was lowered before noon.

Television news footage showed uprooted trees, overturned bus stop signs and damaged bamboo construction scaffolding that were blown down by strong typhoon winds.

Typhoon Kalmaegi swept out of the Philippines on Monday after causing chest-deep floods in some rural areas but leaving the storm-prone country largely unscathed.

Six people were killed after a passenger ferry sank in the central Philippines on Saturday amid rough weather as the storm approached, the navy said.

Hong Kong was buffeted by two typhoons last year.

In August 2013 helicopter teams saved all 21 crew from a cargo ship that sank as Severe Typhoon Utor passed within 240km of the city, generating waves of up to 15m.

And in September Typhoon Usagi – the year's most powerful storm – caused transport chaos in the city before crashing ashore in southern China. — AFP

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