Hordes of angry passengers stranded after Typhoon Nida pummeled Hong Kong crowded the airport on Tuesday, desperately seeking flights as the city emerges from lockdown while the storm swept across southern China.
Hundreds of flights were canceled, schools and shops shut and the stock market closed for the day as the storm brought violent winds and torrential showers.
Gusts of 151 km per hour 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 Tuesday as winds eased and the typhoon passed onto mainland China. But as the city’s deserted streets began to come to life 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 6:00 am and midnight local time on Tuesday. On a normal day, the airport would handle 1,100 flights.
More than 150 flights were canceled 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 canceled all of their flights in and out of Hong Kong for 16 hours, from 10:00 p.m. Monday until 2:00 p.m. Tuesday.
But the backlog due to the peak summer period is such that Cathay has urged passengers booked on flights between Tuesday night and Wednesday 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, apologizing to its customers.
Security guards prevented passengers without flights from reaching check-in desks Tuesday, redirecting them to another part of the airport to seek help from staff.
Some complained that airline staff had not given 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,” one passenger told local channel TVB.
Another passenger from the Philippines told AFP he had not been provided with food or accommodation, despite being at the airport since 7:00 p.m. Monday. His flight has been rescheduled for 10:00 p.m. Tuesday.
After sweeping past Hong Kong, Nida made landfall early Tuesday in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, with winds still blowing at up to 151 kilometers per hour.
Consulate: Kuwaitis safe after Typhoon Nida
Kuwaiti Consulate General in Kuala Lumpur and Macau assured the safety of all Kuwaiti citizens, after Typhoon Nida hit the region and moved on without leaving much damage.
Kuwaiti tourists might experience delays, or cancellation, to their outgoing flights to Hong Kong and Macau, the consulate said in a statement Tuesday.
It urges all Kuwaiti citizens to call these two numbers in case of any emergency: 8522832786600 - 8529821166900. Nida's arrival forced schools, businesses and transportation services to shut down in Hong Kong.