(CTN NEWS) – On Friday, Hong Kong was brought to a standstill by an unprecedented downpour, setting records for rainfall that left much of the city in chaos.
Flash floods submerged metro stations and trapped drivers on roads, prompting authorities to suspend schools and advise the public to seek safe shelter.
Images and videos circulating online depicted residents wading through murky, brown floodwaters as the heavy rain relentlessly inundated this densely populated metropolis of 7.5 million.
In some low-lying areas, streets were transformed into raging torrents, necessitating rescues for motorists stranded in their vehicles.
The deluge commenced late Thursday night, and according to the Hong Kong Observatory, between 11 p.m. and midnight, more than 158 millimeters (6.2 inches) of rain were recorded, marking the highest hourly rainfall in the city since record-keeping began in 1884, as stated in a government press release.
Online weather data from OGimet reported that certain parts of the city received nearly 500 mm (19.7 inches) of rainfall within a 24-hour period.
Extreme Conditions Hit Hong Kong Shortly After Powerful Typhoon: City Paralyzed, Residents Stranded
The extreme conditions took many residents by surprise and occurred just days after Hong Kong endured its most powerful typhoon in five years.
Typhoon Saola, initially a super typhoon, weakened to the strength of a Category 2 hurricane when it made landfall in Hong Kong last weekend. Nonetheless, it still had enough force to paralyze the city and lead to hundreds of flight cancellations.
The government reported that eighty-six people were injured as a result of the typhoon.
The deluge on Friday once again brought widespread disruptions to transportation and businesses in the financial hub.
The stock market canceled its morning trading, and all schools remained closed for the day. Authorities urged non-essential employees to either work from home or find secure shelter due to the hazardous travel conditions.
Stuart Hargreaves, a Hong Kong resident and professor, found himself stranded while driving home late Thursday and was compelled to spend the night in his car.
He described the flooded roads as “impassable,” with water even rising over the car’s hood at one point, making him fear that the engine would be submerged.
Several other vehicles had similarly flooded and were “floating” nearby, he recalled. He eventually found a safe parking spot but was unable to leave until daybreak.
When he finally managed to drive home nine hours later, he encountered a road “filled with rocks from landslides, debris from fallen trees, abandoned cars, and so on,” he recounted.
Hong Kong Faces Rising Injuries and Flooding Amid Ongoing Extreme Weather Conditions
As of Friday afternoon, Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority has reported 119 people injured as a result of the heavy downpour, with four of them in serious condition. The government has stated that these “extreme” weather conditions are anticipated to persist at least until midnight.
In response to the flooding, the Mass Transit Railway in the city has decided to suspend services on one of its lines.
This move comes after a station in the Wong Tai Sin district became inundated, with widely-shared online footage depicting floodwater rushing down the station’s stairs.
Another video showed workers at a different station standing in knee-deep water, struggling at the entrance to prevent further flooding.
While most other subway services remained operational, all major bus, tram, and ferry services were suspended, according to the public broadcaster RTHK. Although some bus services resumed on Friday afternoon, many routes are still closed or diverted.
Due to the risk of landslides in Hong Kong’s mountainous terrain, numerous roads were also closed off. Authorities issued the highest level of a “black” rainstorm warning for the first time in two years.
Videos captured on Thursday evening depicted floodwater inundating the first floors of various buildings and shopping malls, leaving chairs and debris strewn across the floors.
The government also issued a warning of potential flooding in its northern New Territories district, situated adjacent to the Chinese mainland. This concern arose after the neighboring city of Shenzhen announced its intention to release water from a reservoir.
In Shenzhen, the heavy downpours set multiple rainfall records for the city, including those for maximum rainfall within two-hour, three-hour, six-hour, and 12-hour periods, which had remained unchanged since 1952, as reported by Chinese state media.
Between 5 p.m. on Thursday and 6 a.m. on Friday, Shenzhen received a staggering 469 millimeters (approximately 18.5 inches) of rainfall, leading to the closure of kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools on Friday, as per state media reports.
Transportation in the city was also disrupted, with six subway lines suspended.
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