Hong Kong hunkers down as Kompasu edges closer

Hong Kong hunkered down on Tuesday evening for the onset of Severe Tropical Storm Kompasu, with the public stocking up on supplies and public transport services limited.

The No. 8 storm signal will be in force until at least before dawn on Wednesday, the observatory said. It forecasts Kompasu will be closest to Hong Kong early on Wednesday morning.

Bus operators Citybus and New World First Bus said on Tuesday evening that regular and overnight services had been suspended, with the exception of routes S1 and B3X, which run between the airport and Tung Chung, and Shenzhen Bay and Tuen Mun.

KMB has also suspended most of its services, except for S1 and S64, which are airport routes. Ferry services were also suspended.

The MTR said it was operating at longer intervals, but warned that open sections of the railway would be suspended immediately and without notice if weather conditions deteriorate. The Airport Express was operating at 30-minute intervals.

The government said 105 people had sought refuge at 24 temporary shelters that it opened across the city. It had received nine reports of fallen trees as of 8pm, but no landslides or flooding had been reported.

The storm had earlier struck the Philippines with sustained winds of 100 kilometres per hour. Nine people were reported to have been killed in the country and 11 were reported missing as heavy rains caused floods and landslides.

At 10pm, Kompasu was centred 460 kilometres south-southeast of Hong Kong and heading west.

The no. 3 signal was issued overnight, and the observatory gave several hours’ notice of its intention to issue the higher no. 8 signal on Tuesday afternoon.

Shoppers cleared out supermarket shelves prior to the higher signal, with some saying they were making sure they didn’t need to go out on Wednesday. But the panic buying was welcomed by at least one wet market vendor, who told RTHK that business at her stall had increased.