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Typhoon hits China's Hainan after shutting down Hong Kong

HONG KONG, September 16, 2014 - A powerful typhoon slammed into China's Hainan island on Tuesday after sweeping past Hong Kong where it disrupted flights and forced the closure of the stock market and container ports.

Typhoon Kalmaegi buffeted Hong Kong with gusts of up to 159 kilometres (98 miles) per hour as it barrelled west, injuring some 29 people, felling scores of trees and causing floods and a landslide.

CHINA, HONG KONG : Firemen attend an emergency call in Western
District in Hong Kong during a thunderstorm caused by Typhoon
Kalmaegi on September 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO

The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the number-eight cyclone warning -- the third in a five-tier system -- late Monday, triggering the closure of schools and businesses.

The warning was lowered to a number-three strong wind signal late Tuesday morning, allowing the stock market to reopen.

In Hainan, more than 90,000 people were evacuated from the east coast of the island as local governments were told to prepare for "disaster-relief operations", the official Xinhua news agency said.

China Southern Airlines said it would cancel all flights to and from the provincial capital Haikou, while ferry services and trains to the mainland across the 30 kilometre (18 mile) Qiongzhou Strait were also suspended, it said.

The China Meteorological Administration had an "orange" alert in place, the second-most severe in the nation's four-tier weather warning system.

An earlier statement, which carried the most severe "red" alert, said that up to 400 centimetres of rain was expected in some coastal areas.

In Hong Kong, authorities were hauling away debris and getting the city back up and running, including clearing a backlog of hundreds of flights that were delayed or cancelled.

The government said there were 128 reports of fallen trees and that some parts of the city were flooded, with one report of a landslide.

"Although Kalmaegi is moving away, occasional gales will still affect the southwestern part and high ground of Hong Kong," the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Television news footage showed uprooted trees, overturned bus stop signs and damaged bamboo construction scaffolding that had been torn down by the strong winds.

Twenty-nine people have sought treatment for typhoon-related injuries, the city's Hospital Authority told AFP.

The Hong Kong stock exchange announced it will open in the afternoon after it cancelled its morning trading session.

Typhoon Kalmaegi swept out of the Philippines on Monday after causing chest-deep floods in some rural areas but leaving the storm-prone country largely unscathed.

Six people were killed after a passenger ferry sank in the central Philippines on Saturday amid rough weather as the storm approached, the navy said.

Hong Kong was buffeted by two typhoons last year.

In August 2013 helicopter teams saved all 21 crew from a cargo ship that sank as Severe Typhoon Utor passed within 240 kilometres of the city, generating waves of up to 15 metres (50 feet).

And in September Typhoon Usagi -- the year's most powerful storm -- caused transport chaos in the city before crashing ashore in southern China.

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