Record-breaking rainfall in Hong Kong caused widespread flash flooding across the financial hub on Friday, with many businesses and schools forced to shut, just days after the city was battered by a typhoon.
The deluge began late Thursday night, with the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) recording more than 158 millimeters in rain between 11 p.m. and midnight, the highest hourly rainfall since records began in 1884, the government said in a news release.
The weather bureau issued the highest “black” rainstorm warning and urged people to stay indoors and find shelter, warning the rain could bring flash floods, and that residents near rivers should consider evacuating.
Photos and videos Friday show parts of the city underwater, with cars struggling through flooded roads, and people wading through murky brown floodwaters. Authorities had to rescue some drivers stuck in partially submerged vehicles; some parking lots were so flooded car roofs were only just visible above the water.
Footage widely shared online showed a subway station in the northern district of Wong Tai Sin submerged in waist-high water, with floodwater gushing down the stairs. Train services to several stops on the same subway line have been suspended “due to flooding in the section near Wong Tai Sin station,” said the city’s subway operator.
While most other subway operations remain open, bus, tram and ferry services have suspended across the city due to the flooding, according to public broadcaster RTHK.
Early Friday morning, the government announced all schools would also be suspended, and urged businesses to allow non-essential employees to stay in safe places instead of going to the workplace.
The flooding comes just one week after Hong Kong was lashed by its strongest typhoon in five years. Typhoon Saola, originally a super typhoon, weakened to the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane as it reached Hong Kong – but was still potent enough to knock down trees and cause hundreds of flight cancellations. Eighty-six people were injured from the typhoon, the government said.