By Tyrone Siu and Farah Master
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Torrential rains inundated Hong Kong on Friday, causing widespread flooding in the densely populated city, inundating streets, shopping malls and subway stations, while authorities closed schools and urged workers to stay at home.
The Chinese Special Administrative Region saw its highest hourly rainfall since records began 140 years ago. Waterfalls cascaded over the city’s mountainous terrain as authorities issued warnings about the risk of landslides.
Streets turned into torrents, videos circulating on social media showed, while one clip showed subway workers wading waist-deep in a station as they tried to stem the flow of water cascading down from street level .
The city’s Cross Harbor Tunnel, one of the main arteries connecting Hong Kong island to Kowloon, was also inundated with water, while photos showed a flooded shopping center in Chai Wan district.
The Hong Kong Observatory reported 158.1 millimeters (6.2 inches) of rainfall between 11 p.m. HKT on Thursday and midnight on Friday (1500 to 1600 GMT on Thursday).
The weather bureau issued the highest “black” rainstorm warning, saying more than 200mm of rainfall was recorded on Hong Kong’s main island of Kowloon and the northeastern part of the city’s New Territories since Thursday night.
The low pressure associated with the remnants of Typhoon Haikui has brought torrential rain to the coast of China’s Guangdong since Thursday, the weather bureau said.
Extreme conditions are expected to continue until at least midday Friday.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange will not open on Friday morning and will remain closed for the afternoon session if the “black” rain warning remains in place until midday, the bourse said.
City Leader John Lee said he was very concerned about severe flooding in most parts of the territory and had directed all departments to respond with “every effort.”
Some passenger and cargo processing points at two border checkpoints between Hong Kong and the neighboring city of Shenzhen have been closed due to flooding, the government said.
In the Wong Tai Sin district, vehicles were submerged in water as they attempted to drive down a main road.
Hong Kong’s MTR Corp, which operates the city’s rail network, said at least one route was closed while others were operating with delays.
All schools were closed on Friday due to “extreme conditions caused by extensive flooding and severe traffic disruptions”, the government said.
It appealed to employers to comply with work arrangements that normally apply to High Wind Signal 8, which has effectively brought the city to a standstill and closed offices and shops. Macau ferry operators in Hong Kong said several ferry trips to the gambling hub would be suspended due to widespread flooding in the financial hub.
Macau’s weather bureau issued the lowest-level “yellow” rain warning on Friday, allowing schools and businesses, including casinos, to open as usual.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Jamie Freed and Michael Perry)