BEIJING — A powerful typhoon that had threatened Hong Kong brushed past the southern Chinese city Sunday night and crashed into a mountainous swath of Guangdong Province, killing at least 25 people, according to the local news media.
Although the storm forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in Hong Kong and delayed the opening of financial markets on Monday, Typhoon Usagi — described as among the region’s most dangerous storms in three decades — weakened as it approached the densely populated Pearl River Delta with winds that topped out around 110 miles per hour.
More than half the deaths occurred in and around the coastal city of Shanwei on Sunday night. The dead included seven railroad construction workers, two people who drowned when their fishing boat capsized and a man hit by a window dislodged by gale-force winds, the state-run media said. Flooding and strong gusts downed power lines, leaving 170,000 people without electricity.
Across Guangdong, the official Xinhua news agency said the storm destroyed 7,100 homes and forced the evacuation of around 226,000 people. Damage was estimated at more than $500 million. In Shantou, another coastal city, rising floodwaters helped a two-ton hippopotamus escape from its enclosure at the city zoo. Photographs posted on the Internet showed the animal bobbing in a nearby canal but it was reportedly coaxed back by zoo workers by Monday afternoon.
Earlier in the week, Usagi — which means rabbit in Japanese — plowed through the Luzon Strait, which separates Taiwan and the Philippines, killing at least four people. For a while on Friday, the storm qualified as a super typhoon, a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, but it began to lose some of its punch Sunday.
According to the Hong Kong Observatory, the storm injured 13 people across the city and forced the cancellation of 370 flights, leaving hundreds of travelers stranded at the city’s airport.
On the Chinese mainland, high-speed train service between Guangzhou and Beijing was suspended and 540 flights were canceled just as millions of travelers were returning after a three-day national holiday. By Monday evening the storm, still packing heavy wind and rain, was sweeping northwest to China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Source: Associated Press