Hong Kong lowers storm rating after Mangkhut’s glancing blow

People hold an umbrella as they brave the wind of Typhoon Mangkhut (Pic Credit Bloomberg)

The Hong Kong Observatory lowered its rating on Typhoon Mangkhut, which carved a deadly path through the Philippines and is now battering China’s Guangdong province, to Strong Wind Signal No. 3. The city’s stock exchange is set to open as normal today and casinos in Macau will start business from 8 a.m. The region’s flights will continue to face disruption.

“There are still strong winds generally over the territory, while occasional gales are affecting high ground,” the observatory said in an advisory today.

Mangkhut had shut the city all day Sunday after the Observatory gave the storm its highest warning signal. Hong Kong escaped the brunt although media reports showed images of apartment building windows being blown out, trees toppling, scaffolds collapsing and a crane falling off a building at a construction site. Storm surges raised sea levels as much as four meters higher than usual in Tsim Sha Tsui, the South China Morning Post reported.

Hong Kong Airport is trying to get business back to normal. More than 1,400 flights had been canceled across the region, according to Flight Aware. Cathay Pacific Airways said it expects a gradual return to scheduled operations, but there will be continued delays and some cancellations. All flights at Guangzhou International Airport are grounded through Monday morning.

In an unwelcome, and potentially costly first for Macau, the gaming regulator had issued an order on Saturday forcing casinos to close their doors.

“This robs the month of one important weekend day,” Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd., said in a note.

While the casinos will be able to reopen this morning, it will take a while to get transportation back to normal given the disruption to flight and ferry services.

September’s revenue growth rate could be affected by as much as seven percentage points, almost cutting in half Union Gaming’s previous forecast of a 15% increase, Govertsen said. It also may cut third-quarter revenue growth by two points, to 12%.

In China, more than 2.45 million people were relocated and more than 48,000 fishing boats returned to ports in Guangdong province as 5 p.m. Sunday, when Mangkhut made landfall.

The Philippines was worst hit, particularly the mainly agricultural north-west as the death toll topped 50. The government put losses to the nation’s agriculture sector at 4.99 billion pesos ($92 million), almost all of it rice, and 175,301 hectares of farm land.

Francis Tolentino, a senior adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte, estimated 5.7 million people were affected by the storm.