Hong Kong was bracing on Friday for Typhoon Haima with destructive 145 kmh (86 mph) winds at its centre, forcing authorities to shut all but essential services in the global financial hub. The Hong Kong Observatory raised its typhoon 8 signal, one of its highest warnings which rate typhoons up to 10, as Haima crossed the northern part of the South China Sea after lashing the Philippines.
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“According to the present forecast track, Haima will be closest to Hong Kong around noon, skirting about 100 km (62 miles) to the east of the territory,” said the observatory on its website. “This means that winds with mean speeds of 63 kmh (40 mph) or more are expected from the northwest quarter.”
Flights and train services have been cancelled going in and out of the city. When a typhoon 8 signal is in place businesses, government offices and schools stay closed, including banks, port operations and the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Haima strikes Hong Kong just as it recovers from a day of torrential rain on Wednesday that caused several minor landslides and localised flooding.