Typhoon Saola makes landfall in Guangdong after slamming Hong Kong, Macau

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Typhoon Saola made landfall in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong early on Saturday as violent winds lashed nearby Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau, leaving at least one dead and a trail of destruction and flooding in many areas.

The Asian financial hub of Hong Kong and China’s neighbouring populous province of Guangdong cancelled hundreds of flights on Friday and shut businesses, schools and financial markets as Saola had edged closer.

Packing winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph) as a super typhoon, Saola was among the strongest to menace the southern province since 1949. It was a severe typhoon, Chinese authorities said, as it made landfall in Zhuhai city with winds slowing to around 160 kph.

Railway operations in Guangdong were allowed to gradually resume from 8:30 a.m. (0030 GMT), the railway operator said.

Despite weakening, Saola continues to affect the region, Chinese authorities said.

More than 300 people were stranded at Hong Kong’s airport after some 460 flights were cancelled, the city’s Airport Authority said.

Flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said flights would resume from noon (0400 GMT) on Saturday after being suspended since Friday afternoon.

Hong Kong imposed its highest hurricane storm signal 10 on Friday night, lowering it to 8 by Saturday morning. The city’s observatory said it would remain in force until 4 p.m. (0800 GMT) as heavy rain and flooding were still affecting the territory.

Fallen trees were strewn over many roads, particularly in the more exposed outlying islands. In the bustling Causeway Bay district many building signs had flown off.

A large window was blown out of an office building in the Tseung Kwan O district, footage from broadcaster TVB showed. Photos posted on Facebook showed water levels at Repulse Bay beach surging several metres higher than normal level, partially submerging its landmark Tin Hau temple.

More than 500 people sought refuge in government shelters while more than 50 people were admitted to hospitals due to the typhoon, the government said.

In Macau, the world’s biggest gambling centre, casinos were allowed to reopen from 8 a.m. on Saturday, the government said, after shutting Friday night.

One person was killed in Shenzhen after a tree fell and hit their vehicle, local media reported.

Haikui, a typhoon not as strong as Saola, was forecast to make landfall on Taiwan’s far southeastern coast late on Sunday afternoon and bring heavy rain across the island into next week.

Taiwan’s two main domestic airlines cancelled all flights for Sunday, and the government warned people to stay away from beaches and mountain areas.

(This story has been corrected to remove incorrect reference to Taiwan in paragraph 5)

(Reporting by Farah Master, Joyce Zhou and Tyrone Siu in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by William Mallard)