Typhoon Vicente savaged Hong Kong yesterday, catching thousands of commuters unawares and disrupting services on air, land and sea.
Typhoon signal No 9 for the northeast gale was in force last night as Vicente moved closest to Hong Kong on its way to landfall in Guangdong.
At least seven people - three men and four women - were injured in storm- related accidents.
The Airport Authority reported delays to 58 arrivals and 63 departures. At least 11 flights were canceled.
Some bus services - mostly cross- harbor buses - were suspended last night. The Peak Tram and the Tramways stopped running yesterday evening.
A woman was knocked unconscious by a two-meter flying wooden board on Connaught Road Central. Four others were also struck by the board but were not seriously hurt.
Police said the woman, surnamed Chu, 33, was hit at 4.22pm, an hour before the Observatory hoisted the No 8 signal.
Chu worked in Central and was closing her shop when struck down.
"She was knocked unconscious but woke up after paramedics arrived," a man who saw the incident said.
"I do not know where the board came from. It just came out of the blue all of a sudden."
Paramedics had to use a neck support on Chu before sending her to Queen Mary Hospital.
In Aberdeen, a woman in her 50s was hit on the head by a falling tree branch. She was treated at Aberdeen Jockey Club Clinic.
Vicente, which means "to conquer" in Spanish, is the third cyclone to hit this summer. The No 8 storm signal means that winds with mean speeds of 63 kilometers per hour or more are expected from the northeast, said Hong Kong Observatory senior scientific officer Wong Wing-tak.
Typhoon Vicente was centered about 150 kilometers south of Hong Kong last night and was forecast to move northwest toward the coast of Guangdong.
It all began with a standby signal No 1 hoisted on Saturday as Vicente dallied off Hong Kong. The strong wind signal No 3 went up at 5.20am yesterday.
It then intensified so rapidly that by 3.40pm, the Observatory warned it would be raising the No 8 signal, which was hoisted at 5.40pm yesterday, sparking a mad scramble for people to catch ferries, buses and the MTR.
The No 9 signal was hoisted at 11.20pm
Outlying island ferries were among the first to suspend services. At 8pm, the maximum sustained winds recorded at Waglan Island were 98 kilometers per hour; at Sai Kung 71kph; and Cheung Chau 63kph, Wong said.
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said: "We plan to operate our flights as scheduled. So far there have been some delays due to air traffic flow control as a result of the bad weather but nothing major."
MTR trains were crowded as travelers rushed home. Throngs at Admiralty and Mei Foo stations were the worst. All schools were closed in the afternoon and general outpatient clinic services were suspended. The government received at least 37 reports of fallen trees. One in Chai Wan blocked one lane of a road.
The Leisure and Culture Services Department has put up railings and ropes to stabilize giant Chinese banyans along Park Lane Avenue in Tsim Sha Tsui where a fallen tree injured five pedestrians three days ago.
Between 6pm and 10pm yesterday, 35.4 millimeters of rain was recorded.
In Kowloon City's Carpenter Road, part of the concrete canopy on a primary school's third floor collapsed onto a pedestrian walkway. Pieces struck a car but no one was injured.
Although Typhoon Vicente brought Central to a near standstill, some tourists at Wan Chai's Golden Bauhinia Square insisted on walking around.
And dozens of surfers enjoyed the one-meter high waves at Big Wave Bay and Shek O earlier in the day.