Stranded passenger: It's chaotic
Passengers at HK airport desperate for flights after Typhoon Nida lockdown
Angry passengers stranded after Typhoon Nida pummelled Hong Kong swarmed its airport yesterday, desperately seeking flights as the city emerges from lockdown.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled, schools and shops shut and the stock market closed for the day as the storm brought violent winds and torrential showers.
Gusts of 151kmh whipped the city and rain lashed down during the night, leaving three people injured and a trail of fallen trees and torn-down scaffolding.
The storm triggered a Typhoon 8 signal - the third-strongest category - which was downgraded yesterday as winds eased and the typhoon passed onto mainland China.
But as buses and train services resumed, Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport was inundated with stranded passengers.
An airport authority spokesman told AFP only 500 flights would run between 6am and midnight local time yesterday. On a normal day, the airport would handle 1,100 flights.
Security guards prevented passengers without flights from reaching check-in desks yesterday, redirecting them to another part of the airport.
Some complained that airline employees did not give them food vouchers or emergency accommodation despite lengthy waits.
"The airline was giving inconsistent information. There was no announcement whatsoever about accommodation, food or the weather situation. It's chaotic," a passenger told local channel TVB.
More than 150 flights were cancelled on Monday as Nida approached, leaving stranded passengers to sleep on the floor in the departure hall.
Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair cancelled all their flights in and out of Hong Kong from 10pm on Monday until 2pm yesterday.
Cathay has urged passengers booked on flights between last night and today to postpone or cancel "non-essential travel".
"Services remain strained, it has been a significant challenge as many flights are already operating at capacity," the airline said in a statement.
After sweeping past Hong Kong, Nida made landfall early yesterday in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, with winds still blowing at up to 151kmh.
It was the strongest typhoon to hit the Pearl River delta in 30 years, the China News Service cited experts as saying.
Shenzhen issued a red alert over rain - the highest in a four-tiered warning system - after the downpours totalled more than 80mm, China's meteorological bureau said.
The city's port and the Shenzhen Bay Bridge connecting the mainland to Hong Kong were temporarily closed, CCTV said, with around 140 flights cancelled at its airport.
In neighbouring Zhuhai, rainstorm warnings were upgraded to orange, the second-highest alert level, on Tuesday. Work was cancelled, scenic spots closed and city bus services stopped, the Guangzhou Daily said.
A few people were still taking selfies on the oceanside boardwalk, prompting the provincial meteorological bureau to post on social media: "Warning once again that the wind is strong and the waves high by the seaside. Don't go out to the beach to play!"