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Super Typhoon Saola hurtles towards southern China, Hong Kong


By AFP and published by CNA

Hong Kong – China issued its highest typhoon warning on Thursday (Aug. 31) as Super Typhoon Saola drew closer to Hong Kong and the mainland’s southern coast, with several cities delaying the start of the school year as a precaution.

Saola’s wind speeds topped 200 kmh by 6 p.m. on Thursday, with the storm around 370 km southeast of the Chinese finance hub, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.

It will bring “heavy squally showers and violent winds” on Friday, the observatory said, adding that the threat level was expected to be upgraded to “T8” – the city’s third-highest – early in the morning.

On the mainland, China issued the most severe warning in its four-tiered system, with the National Meteorological Centre predicting the typhoon would make landfall “somewhere in the coastal areas stretching from Huilai to Hong Kong” by Friday afternoon at the earliest.

But there was also a possibility it could move west and “pass through the waters of eastern Guangdong without making landfall”.

Train services have been suspended across Guangdong, state news agency Xinhua said, while various cities in the southern province – including Shantou, Shanwei, Jieyang and Chaozhou – have pushed the start of the academic year to Monday.

Airline Cathay Pacific said it cancelled all flights in and out of Hong Kong between 0600 GMT Friday and 0200 GMT Saturday.

Its subsidiary, budget airline HK Express announced it was cancelling 70 flights in and out of Hong Kong on Friday and Saturday.

Hong Kong Airlines said it had cancelled more than 30 flights and start-up carrier Greater Bay Airlines said it was calling off 12.

Hong Kong’s low-lying areas could see “serious flooding”, its observatory said, and the storm surge may be similar to that seen during the 2018 Super Typhoon Mangkhut if Saola skirted the south of the territory.

Mangkhut – which triggered Hong Kong’s maximum “T10” typhoon alert – caused severe damage to the city and injured more than 300 people.

Saola displaced thousands earlier this week as it passed the northern Philippines but no direct casualties have been reported from it so far.

Authorities in Hong Kong’s neighbouring casino hub of Macau said they were eyeing the possibility of issuing its third-highest typhoon warning on Saturday.

Southern China is frequently hit in summer and autumn by typhoons that form in the warm oceans east of the Philippines and then travel west.

While they can cause temporary disruption to cities like Hong Kong and Macau, fatalities have become much less common thanks to stronger building codes and better flood management systems.


Top: A girl reads a book at a bookstore, whose windows are taped in anticipation of Super Typhoon Saola in Hong Kong, China, yesterday August 31, 2023. Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu and published by CNA

First insert: Map showing Super Typhoon Saolo’s path issued by the Hong Kong Observatory yesterday, August 31, 2023.

Second insert: A woman and a child wade along a flooded street in Valenzuela city, Philippines on Aug. 2, 2023. Photo: AP/Aaron Favila and published by CNA

Front Page: Chinese forecasters issued a typhoon red warning. Representational photo: Reuters and published by India Today

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