HONG KONG — This city shut down Thursday as Typhoon Nesat, which swept through the Philippines earlier and caused at least 35 deaths, made its way here.
The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted a Signal No. 8 typhoon warning in the early morning hours. Under Hong Kong’s system of storm warnings, a Signal 8 typhoon means that markets, schools, businesses and nonessential government departments must be closed. Hong Kong’s stock and derivatives markets were closed in the morning and stayed shut for the day. The storm has since moved northwest, away from Hong Kong.
Though the typhoon caused widespread flooding and displaced thousands in the Philippines, Hong Kong appeared to escape unscathed with no reports of serious damage or deaths. Streets were quiet for a change as the city ground to a halt. This was the first Signal No. 8 storm warning issued since 2009. Many workers who stayed home enjoyed the extra day off. Most businesses were shuttered.
Travelers were a bit more inconvenienced. The Hong Kong Airport Authority said that as of 3 p.m., there were 124 delayed departures, 10 arrival and 10 departure flight cancellations and 22 flights diverted to other airports. The travel delays come just days before the Chinese National Day holiday on Oct.1 during which throngs of mainland Chinese visit Hong Kong, mostly to go shopping. While some tourists may have been delayed, flights did land and take off throughout the storm. There may be some risk from another approaching storm, Typhoon Nalgae, which is scheduled to hit the Philippines on Saturday.
Fashion Access, the twice yearly Asia Pacific Leather Fair, Ltd. (APLF) was also a victim of the storm. Although the second day of the three day fair managed to go ahead, potential attendees stayed away from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre due to the bad weather and lack of public transportation.
“It’s a disaster! This typhoon, there are no taxis, everyone has stayed at home,” said Roberto Rizzardo, an exhibitor from shoe and handbag maker Bruno Premi.