Hong Kong shuts down as powerful Typhoon Hato nears
A powerful typhoon has shut down Hong Kong offices and schools and grounded hundreds of flights.
Severe Typhoon Hato was about 37 miles south of Hong Kong on Wednesday morning and moving towards mainland China's Pearl River Delta.
Weather authorities raised the No 10 hurricane signal, the highest level, for the first time in five years.
Hato was packing maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometers (103 miles) per hour with gusts of up to 192 kph (119 mph).
The warning forced businesses, government offices, schools and courts to shut and the stock market to suspend trading, leaving the Asian financial centre's normally bustling streets eerily quiet.
Airlines axed 420 flights and ferry operators halted services to the nearby Chinese gambling centre of Macau and cities in the delta.
A direct hit on Hong Kong was not expected, but outlying islands were experiencing winds of 87 mph.
The Hong Kong Observatory warned people to be prepared for destructive winds, possible flooding and landslip, and advised them to stay away from low-lying areas because storm surges could cause severe flooding.
Hato is expected to skirt south of Hong Kong and make landfall on China's Guangdong province.
Thousands of people were evacuated from parts of the mainland coast ahead of the storm's arrival, the official Xinhua news service said.
Train services were cancelled, fishing boats returned to harbour and more than 4,000 fish farmers and their families came to shore, Xinhua said.
The agency said 33ft waves were expected in the South China Sea.