(Updates with observatory report in sixth paragraph.)
Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong lowered its storm warning signal and delayed the opening of markets, banks and schools in the wake of Typhoon Usagi, which killed at least 20 people in southern China.
The No. 8 Storm Signal, the third-highest level, was lowered to No. 3 at 9:20 a.m., the Hong Kong Observatory said. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. said it scrapped morning trading today because the the reduction took place after 9 a.m. Markets will open in the afternoon.
Thousands were evacuated from China’s coastal areas as the storm knocked out power lines, while travelers celebrating the Chinese Mid-autumn Festival were delayed across the region with more than 440 flights affected in Hong Kong. At least 20 people were killed in Guangdong province, where the storm made landfall 7:40 p.m. yesterday in Shanwei city, the Nanfang Daily reported, citing local authorities.
“It was a bit gusty, and kind of cool to watch out of the window,” said Josh Ludlow, who moved to Hong Kong this month to work at a law firm in the central business district. “Everyone was really prepared, and just getting on with business.”
CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said it will continue with its 20th investors forum, while the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association rescheduled its annual conference. Banks in the former British colony will reopen within two hours of signal 8 being dropped, the Hong Kong Association of Banks said.
The storm, rated the world’s strongest typhoon this year while passing Taiwan, was about 240 kilometers (149 miles) northwest of Hong Kong and moving west-northwest at about 22 kilometers an hour across Guangdong province, the observatory said at 9:25 a.m.
“Usagi continues to weaken and move away from Hong Kong,” the observatory said. “Local winds have moderated.”
Rail services between Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, and Zhuhai and Shenzhen have stopped, according to the official microblog of operator Guangzhou Railway (Group) Corp. Some bullet train services were canceled yesterday, with others also suspended today, it said.
In Fujian province, Usagi knocked out three power lines early yesterday, cutting off electricity to about 170,000 households before it was restored to all but 25,000 by noon, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The province issued a yellow typhoon warning, the next-to-lowest on the country’s four-level scale, at 4 a.m. today before the China Meteorological Administration downgraded it at 6 a.m. to blue, the lowest level.
Thousands of people were evacuated from coastal areas in the province, Xinhua reported yesterday. The flood-control headquarters ordered reinforced patrols so that emergency repairs could be carried out to prevent embankment breaches.
Usagi dumped as much as 70 centimeters (28 inches) of rain in Taiwan’s east on Sept. 21, left 12 people injured and disrupted more than 100 flights, the Central Emergency Operation Center said.
While passing Taiwan, it had sustained wind speeds of 205 kilometers per hour, making it a super typhoon, according to a tracking map on the Hong Kong Observatory website.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, said it will resume operations from mid-day after suspending some services yesterday. Air China Ltd. canceled 148 flights as of yesterday as airports in Xiamen, Shantou, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Hong Kong and Macau were affected.
“The flight was scary,” said Maricel Cezar, a 38-year-old nurse visiting Hong Kong from Brisbane, Australia. “We’re going to try and make the most of our day. Later we’ll go to the Bank of China tower, than hopefully the Peak.”
The government opened temporary shelters, with 274 people seeking refuge. As of 3 a.m., 13 people had sought emergency medical treatment at the city’s hospitals, with six of them discharged, the Hospital Authority said.
Hong Kong, situated off China’s southern coast, gets on average about six tropical cyclones annually, according to the weather bureau. Usagi is the most powerful storm to threaten Hong Kong since Severe Typhoon Utor in August.
--With assistance from Stephanie Tong and Jasmine Wang in Hong Kong. Editors: Hwee Ann Tan, John Liu