Travel weather warning to HK, China

Travel weather warning to HK, China

Travellers to Hong Kong, Macau and southern China should closely monitor weather conditions, even though Typhoon Utor has been downgraded to a tropical storm, the weather bureau warned on Wednesday.

A tourist from mainland China braves strong wind near the waterfront in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Typhoon Utor lashed Hong Kong with wind and rain, closing down the bustling Asian financial centre before sweeping towards mainland China. (AP photo)

"All travellers to southern China, Macau and Hong Kong are advised to follow the weather forecast before their departure,'' the Meteorological Department said in its latest weather update issued at 5pm.

Heavy rains could soon hit Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat in the eastern provinces, and two southern provinces - Ranong and Phang-nga, it said.

The typhoon forced AirAsia to cancel several flights to Hong Kong, Macau and other destinations in southern China on Wednesday, including flights out of Don Mueang airport to Hong Kong and Macau, the airline said on Facebook.

AirAsia passengers are advised to check the latest flight information on before departing for the airport, it added.

There are no flight updates from Thai Airways International.

As Utor headed for mainland China, it barrelled past Hong Kong where it forced the closure of financial markets, schools and businesses, and disrupted hundreds of flights.

Gusts of more than 100 kilometres per hour were recorded, with rain lashing down, as the Hong Kong Observatory hoisted a "Number 8'' storm warning in the early hours of Wednesday - the third-highest level.

As the typhoon skirted the city about 240 kilometres to the southwest, the observatory downgraded the warning in the afternoon to "Number 3'', indicating strong winds.

The Airport Authority in Hong Kong said almost half of the day's flights were disrupted, with 118 cancelled and another 320 delayed.

Ferry services to outlying islands and mainland China were halted in the morning, stranding passengers at various terminals.

A government spokesman said six people were treated in public hospitals for storm-related injuries and there were six cases of minor flooding.

Overnight the government opened 17 temporary shelters, with dozens of people seeking refuge.

The city's streets were quiet for much of the day, with many workers staying home as businesses and schools were shuttered. 

But as the storm passed more people began venturing out, umbrellas hoisted, as the city returned to normal.

However, the Hong Kong stock exchange had already cancelled Wednesday's session and schools remained shut for the afternoon.

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