Update 1: Adds casualty figures, quotes, fresh information throughout
Hong Kong, Sep 8 (EFE).- At least one person died and 110 were injured due to heavy rains and floods that Hong Kong suffered since Thursday night, where some areas registered more than 600 millimeters of water per hour, the equivalent of a quarter of the annual rainfall in the city.
City authorities held a press conference Friday to assess the situation and damages caused by a storm “that occurs once every 500 years,” as Hong Kong Chief Secretary Eric Chan said.
The storm “was so strong and sudden that we were unable to act and issue early warnings as was done with Super Typhoon Saola” that hit the territory a week ago, Chan said.
Health authorities said more than 100 people have been treated in hospitals for injuries suffered during the storm, four of them seriously due to falls and traffic accidents.
In addition, 325 people are in shelters waiting to be able to return to their homes, affected by the floods.
About the concerning levels of water accumulated in the city, Chui Si-kay, acting director of drainage services, said the system was functioning normally and is designed to withstand very intense storms, adding that the situation Thursday night was “very extreme.”
The rains, considered the heaviest on record for 140 years, caused the suspension of all school activities during this day and the imposition of the working conditions established in typhoon signal No. 8, which establishes the priority of staff safety.
The storm also forced the closure of the Heung Yuen Wai and Man Kam To border control posts, in addition to local immigration offices, all public medical centers and post offices.
The operator of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, HKEX, suspended trading Friday after doing so on Sept. 1 due to the arrival of super typhoon Saola.
The rains began Thursday night, led to the issuance of a black alert for rainfall and immediately caused serious flooding throughout the former colony, with the eastern district among the most affected areas.
Numerous videos were spread on social media showing scenes of streets in the financial center turned into torrents, with numerous people and vehicles trapped by floods throughout the city, as well as a flooded subway station.
According to the local meteorological observatory, heavy rain particularly affected the northern part of the New Territories, including Sheung Shui, Ta Kwu Ling and the Sha Tau Kok area.
The floods come on top of the two typhoons that have hit Hong Kong in the last two weeks – Saola and Haikui – and which caused serious damage in both southern China and Taiwan. EFE