Rare torrential rain blackened the sky and lashed Hong Kong Saturday morning, forcing closure of schools and hospitals, submerging vehicles and widely disrupting traffic in the city.
The Hong Kong Observatory issued an amber rainstorm warning signal at about 5:15 a.m. Saturday and soon upgraded the warning system at 6:40 a.m. to the highest black rainstorm warning signal, under which an average rainfall exceeding 70 millimeters per hour were recorded.
The torrential rains submerged roads in many areas and pedestrians were forced to wade through the knee-deep water. Firefighters were called to help out stranded passengers and drivers at Wong Nai Chung Road near the Happy Valley.
A highway linking the Kowloon to the Hong Kong International Airport was also cut off by inundation of the roadbed and a landslide report near Tung Chung.
Hong Kong Airport Authority said a total of 151 flights arriving in or leaving the city had been delayed by Saturday noon due to the bad weather and lightning.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said they had been reported seven landslides in different areas and 31 cases of inundation.
Two people at a store were reported to be trapped in their grocery by a landslide and rescue efforts by firefighters were still under way by Saturday noon.
About 100 villagers threatened by landslide warnings near Mei Foo railway station in Central had to evacuate.
The Home Affairs Department opened its emergency co-ordination centers to provide shelter for those in need of temporary accommodation following a landslide warning signal issued by the Hong Kong Observatory.
The Education Bureau also announced to suspend classes of all AM schools and whole-day schools due to the black rainstorm warning signal, which also made the judiciary close all courts, tribunals, court registries and offices.
The Hospital Authority announced that its general out-patient clinics, specialist clinics including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, geriatric day hospitals and psychiatric day hospitals will close Saturday due to the black rainstorm.
Many tourism spots, including the Wetland Park and Ngong Ping 360 cable cars, had to close down temporarily.
Hong Kong Disneyland, one of the city's major attractions, also announced in a press release to close the park "for the sake of tourists' safety" and will re-open with limited operations if the Black Rainstorm Warning signal is canceled.
(Xinhua News Agency June 7, 2008)