Monstrous Mangkhut: Super typhoon leaves more than 200 injured and paralyzes transport as it pummels Hong Kong with record-breaking winds

Top News | Jane Cheung and Sophie Hui 17 Sep 2018

Super Typhoon Mangkhut, the strongest in wind speed to hit Hong Kong, buffeted the city with monstrous winds, waves and floods yesterday.

The Hospital Authority said that up to 5pm yesterday 213 people - 117 men and 96 women - were injured in the typhoon and sought help at public hospitals.

Today's classes in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools have been suspended as the Education Bureau said it would take time to clean and repair the mess. It would also ensure students' safety and avoid chaos, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said. Universities will also suspend classes.

Transport options remain in doubt today as the MTRCL and authorities race to repair lines and roads obstructed during the typhoon.

There was widespread flooding, especially at blackspots Heng Fa Chuen, Lei Yue Mun and Tai O. Villagers at the later two locations were evacuated.

About 40,000 households saw their electricity supply disrupted, especially in the northern district, Yuen Long and Sai Kung.

The city's seven million people were advised to stay indoors yesterday as Mangkhut skirted 100 kilometers to the south of the city in the afternoon before making landfall in the Pearl River Delta in the evening.

The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the first No 8 signal of the year at 1.10am yesterday as Mangkhut approached. It raised it to No 9 six hours later and to the highest, No 10, at 9.40am, during which Mangkhut slowed from a super typhoon to a severe typhoon. No 10 stayed up until 7.40pm, when it was lowered to No 8.

This was the longest period, 10 hours, since Typhoon York hit the city in 1999.

"By noon, a wind speed of 155km per hour was recorded at Waglan Island - breaking the record during 1962's Wanda and 1999's York," senior scientific officer Lee Tsz-cheung said.

At Tate's Cairn, the wind speed reach a staggering 256km/hr at about the same time.

Mangkhut also brought heavy rainfall. The Observatory issued the amber rainstorm warning at 9.10am and replaced it with the red rainstorm at 10.55am.

A crane fell off Enchantee, a new residential building in Tai Kok Tsui, whose sales started in June. At about 11am, the 50-meter crane on the top floor was toppled by the wind and fell off the tower, hitting a tenement building next to it. The bamboo scaffolding on the side of the building also collapsed. No one was injured but police and firemen moved 40 residents out of the tenement building.

Dozens of windows at Two Harbourfront, a commercial building in Whampoa Garden, were smashed and office documents flew out of windows, scattering on the street below. Online videos showed at least 100 windows between the first and 18th floor of the office complex were ripped off.

A resident of Whampoa Garden, surnamed Mak, living in a flat on the 10th floor opposite the office block said: "The windows started breaking at about 10am, and continued to scatter until 3 to 4pm," he said. "Papers, files and documents were flying in the air, some of them stuck to my windows." Grand Harbour Kowloon, a hotel next to the complex, also saw some of its windows break.

For the first time in years, buildings were swaying so violently that people living on upper floors of high rises in districts facing the sea - including Tseung Kwan O, West Kowloon, Quarry Bay and Sheung Shui - felt "seasick."

"Basically when you stand up, you can feel the whole floor pivot left, then pivot right, then back," said a resident on the 32nd floor of a Quarry Bay building. "Literally you have to plant your feet down, like you would on a boat.

"It's like being on a boat that's anchored on a calm stretch of sea though. It's not when a boat is moving, but you can feel the ebb and flow of the tide," she said.

A Sheung Shui resident living on the 21st floor said: "The lights on the ceiling were flickering. I could feel my body swaying, as if I'm standing on a ship."

But experts said it is normal for tall buildings to shake slightly in powerful winds, and high rises in the SAR can withstand the strong winds of Mangkhut. The president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Marvin Chen, said the slight swaying of skyscrapers is expected and within consideration when the buildings were designed.

"Residents on higher levels may feel a little uncomfortable from the swinging motions, but it doesn't pose much danger to the structures," he said.

He said most SAR high rises are built with a mixture of concrete and steel, making them close to indestructible.

Emergency 999 lines were clogged and police appealed to people to call the hotline only if necessary.

A woman living in Ching Lai Court, Lai King, was at home when she was hit by the air-conditioner and windows in her room.

She said she was lying in bed and scrolling her phone when strong winds broke her window. The frames and air-conditioner fell onto her waist. She said she dialled 999 21 times before anyone picked up the phone. Another 59-year-old woman was hit on the head by an air-conditioner in her Chai Wan flat and was sent to Eastern Hospital.

More reports: Pages 6, 7 & 9

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