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Record rainfall floods Hongkong, Shenzhen streets and train stations

The city saw the highest hourly rainfall since records began 140 years ago.

Record rainfall floods Hongkong, Shenzhen streets and train stations

Flood water covers the floor of a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Sep 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP/Bertha Wang)

HONG KONG: The Asian financial hub of Hong Kong was drenched on Friday (Sep 8) by the heaviest rain since records began 140 years ago, with 83 people hurt, three seriously, as unusually wet weather caused by typhoons brought more disruption to southern China.

The city saw the highest hourly rainfall since records began 140 years ago. The Hong Kong Observatory reported rainfall of 158.1mm at its headquarters between 11pm on Thursday and midnight on Friday.

"Heavy rain will bring flash floods," the observatory warned. "Residents living in close proximity to rivers should stay alert to weather conditions and should consider evacuation" if their homes are flooded, it added.

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

Videos showed cascades of water surging down steep hillsides in the city, flooding waist-deep in narrow streets, and inundating malls, metro stations and tunnels.

The extreme weather also brought chaos to the nearby Chinese city of Shenzhen, a tech hub of more than 17.7 million people, with business and transport links across the economically important Pearl River Delta severely hit.

A worker walks through the site of a landslide following heavy rainstorms in Hong Kong, Sep 8, 2023. (Photo: AP/Louise Delmotte)

The torrential rain was brought by Haikui, a typhoon that made landfall in the Chinese province of Fujian on Tuesday. Although it weakened to a tropical depression its slow-moving clouds have dumped huge volumes of precipitation on areas still soaked by rain from a super typhoon a week earlier.

Hong Kong's weather bureau issued its highest "black" rainstorm warning, and said more than 200mm of rain was recorded on Hong Kong's main island, the Kowloon district and the northeastern part of the city's New Territories from late on Thursday.

The city's leader, John Lee, said he was very concerned about the severe flooding in most parts of the territory and had instructed all departments to respond with "all-out efforts".

Hong Kong authorities shut schools on Friday and told workers to stay at home. The stock exchange did not open for morning trade and would remain shut in the afternoon if the "black" rainstorm warning remained in place at noon.

The Hong Kong Observatory reported hourly rainfall of 158.1 millimetres, the highest since records began in 1884. (Photo: AFP/Dene Chen)
A view of a flooded shopping mall during heavy rain, in Hong Kong, China on Sep 8, 2023. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

MTR Corp, which operates the city's rail network, said at least one line was shut while others were operating with delays. One video clip showed metro workers wading waist-deep in a station.

Videos circulating on social media showed streets turning into raging rivers, while one clip showed water gushing down an escalator into a swamped subway station.

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

Some cars were left stranded in the deluge.

"It felt like the whole neighbourhood was isolated by the floodwater. One of the underground car parks is totally underwater," Olivia Lam, who lives on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island, told AFP.

"The water was almost waist-deep outside my building, and that's not the worst (case) in the neighbourhood."

The city's cross harbour tunnel, one of main arteries connecting Hong Kong island to Kowloon, was also inundated with water, while photos showed a waterlogged shopping centre in the Chai Wan district.

"It's absolutely shocking," said Jacky, 52, who lives in the Wong Tai Sin district with his elderly parents. "I don't remember floods ever being this bad in our district."

"The bottom floor of the mall is completely flooded, the water level is higher than the storefronts ... It's turned our day into chaos," he added.

All schools have been suspended on Friday due to "extreme conditions caused by extensive flooding and serious traffic disruption", the government said.

It appealed to employers to observe work arrangements normally used for the strong wind signal 8, which brings the city to an effective standstill with offices and stores shut.

Vehicles are seen at a flooded parking lot during heavy rain, in Hong Kong on Sep 8, 2023. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
A vehicle is seen at a flooded parking lot during heavy rain, in Hong Kong, China on Sep 8, 2023. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
A bus drives past a flooded area during heavy rain, in Hong Kong on Sep 8, 2023. (File photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
A partially submerged vehicle is surrounded by floodwaters amid torrential rain in Hong Kong, China, Sep 8, 2023 in this still image obtained from social media video. (Image: Reuters/Justin Hardman)

Some passenger and cargo clearance operations at two border points between Hong Kong and Shenzhen were suspended due to flooding.

Macau ferry operators in Hong Kong said several sailings would be suspended to the gambling hub.


The China Meteorological Administration said heavy rain would fall until early Saturday on the central and southwestern areas of Guangdong province.

All schools, some subway stations and offices in the Guangdong city of Shenzhen were shut on Friday.

Residents holding onto safety lines stepped gingerly through knee-deep water in the metropolis of 17.7 million people, videos from state media showed.

Rescuers cordoned off overflowing manholes, carried a child from a stranded vehicle and guided motorcyclists through the murky flows.

A rainfall log showed 465.5mm of rain fell in Shenzhen over a 12-hour period, the highest since records began in 1952.

Daily rainfall in the city in the Pearl River Delta linking Hong Kong to China's mainland was expected to exceed 500mm, Shenzhen media said.

Rescue workers evacuate residents through a flooded street next to a shopping mall, following heavy rainfall in Panyu district of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, Sep 8, 2023. (Photo: China Daily via REUTERS)

Videos showed both the exit and entry areas of the Shenzhen railway station were flooded, with trains connecting the city and the provincial capital of Guangzhou suspended. About 100 people were stranded at the station.

Schools in 10 districts of Guangzhou were suspended for the day or had to open late, while the city of Zhuhai near Macau warned of waterlogging and landslides.

The industrial city of Dongguan north of Shenzhen reported its heaviest rain in 15 years.

Guangdong and the neighbouring Guangxi region were expected to have heavy rain for the next three days. 

A vehicle in a collapsed section of a road in Hong Kong on Sep 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP/STR)
Source: Agencies/ec/zl/rj/cm


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