Hong Kong flooded by heaviest rainfall in 140 years

08 Sep 2023 11:04am
This picture shows stranded vehicles on a flooded road in Hong Kong on Sept 8, 2023. - Photo by AFP
This picture shows stranded vehicles on a flooded road in Hong Kong on Sept 8, 2023. - Photo by AFP

HONG KONG - Hong Kong was flooded by the heaviest rainfall in nearly 140 years on Friday, leaving the city's streets and some subway stations under water and forcing its schools to close.

Just across the border, authorities in China's tech hub Shenzhen recorded the heaviest rains since records began in 1952.

Climate change has increased the intensity of tropical storms, experts say, with more rain and stronger gusts leading to flash floods and coastal damage.

The heavy rainfall in Hong Kong started on Thursday and in the hour leading up to midnight, the city's weather observatory recorded hourly rainfall of 158.1 millimetres at its headquarters, the highest since records began in 1884.

Authorities issued flash flood warnings, with emergency services conducting rescue operations in parts of the territory.

"Residents living in close proximity to rivers should stay alert to weather conditions and should consider evacuation" if their homes are flooded, the observatory said.

It also warned of potential landslips, telling motorists to "keep away from steep slopes or retaining walls".

On Friday morning, taxis struggled through flooded roads as commuters attempted to make their way to work.

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Some cars were left stranded in the deluge.

Roads were also flooded on the island of Lantau, where rivers swelled over their banks.

Southern China was hit the previous weekend by two typhoons in quick succession -- Saola and Haikui -- though Hong Kong avoided a feared direct hit.

Tens of millions of people in the densely populated coastal areas of southern China had sheltered indoors ahead of those storms.

Hong Kong's weather observatory said the latest torrential rain was brought by the "trough of low pressure associated with (the) remnant of Haikui".

No injuries were reported, but authorities suspended schools, and cargo clearance services on the city's border with Shenzhen were paused.

The border disruption came hours after Hong Kong authorities announced that Shenzhen was preparing to discharge water from its reservoir, which they said could lead to flooding in northern parts of the city.

Hong Kong's metro operator said there was a service disruption on one of its lines after a station in the Wong Tai Sin district was flooded.

A handful of other stations were also affected by the rain.

Footage posted on social media showed a subway train not stopping at Wong Tai Sin station, which had floodwater on its platform. - AFP