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Hong Kong Experiences Worst Flooding in 140 Years as Torrential Rain Hits

Stranded taxis are pictured on a flooded road in Hong Kong on September 8, 2023. Record rainfall in Hong Kong caused widespread flooding in the early hours on September 8, disrupting road and rail traffic just days after the city dodged major damage from a super typhoon. (Photo by Bertha WANG / AFP)

Hong Kong is grappling with the most extensive flooding it has seen in over a century due to torrential rainfall. The densely packed city has been overwhelmed by heavy rain, which has led to the submersion of streets, shopping malls, and metro stations. In response, authorities have taken measures such as shutting down schools and urging workers to stay at home.

The Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong recorded its highest hourly rainfall since records began 140 years ago. The Hong Kong Observatory reported an astonishing 158.1mm of rainfall between 11 pm on Thursday and midnight on Friday. The weather bureau issued the highest “black” rainstorm warning and noted that over 200 mm of rainfall was recorded on Hong Kong’s main island, Kowloon, and the northeastern part of the city’s New Territories since Thursday night.

The extreme weather conditions are associated with the remnants of Typhoon Haikui and a trough of low pressure, which has brought relentless rain to the coast of Guangdong. These challenging weather conditions are expected to persist until at least midday on Friday.

Hong Kong’s stock exchange has announced that it will not open on Friday morning if the black rainstorm warning remains in place at 9 am.

City leader John Lee expressed deep concern about the severe flooding in various parts of the territory and has instructed all government departments to respond with “all-out efforts.”

Social media has been flooded with videos showing streets turning into raging rivers, and one clip revealed water cascading down an escalator into a swamped subway station. The city’s cross-harbor tunnel, a major artery connecting Hong Kong island to Kowloon, also experienced flooding, and photos displayed a waterlogged shopping center in the Chai Wan district.

Hong Kong’s MTR Corp, which operates the city’s rail network, reported that at least one line was shut down, and others were operating with delays.

In response to the dire situation, the government has suspended all schools on Friday due to “extreme conditions caused by extensive flooding and serious traffic disruption.” It has also urged employers to implement work arrangements similar to those used during a signal 8 strong wind warning, which often leads to office and store closures, bringing the city to a standstill.

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