Sept 8 (BBC) – Hong Kong and southern Chinese cities are battling widespread flooding as the region endures some of its heaviest rainfall on record.
On Friday, streets and subway stations were underwater in Hong Kong as officials shut schools and workplaces.
The weather bureau said the downpour, which began on Thursday, is the biggest to hit the city in nearly 140 years.
Authorities have had to conduct several rescues, while pictures showed locals wading through flooded streets.
On Friday, Hong Kong authorities said at least 83 people had been taken to hospital in the past 24 hours due to the wild weather. The rain has also triggered landslides – blocking some roads.
Weather authorities issued a “black” rainstorm signal on Thursday night, a warning triggered by rainfall exceeding 70mm an hour. The Hong Kong Observatory later reported an hourly rainfall of 158.1 millimetres, the highest since records began in 1884.
Videos on social media showed rain coursing through the city, turning streets into raging rivers and people climbing onto cars and other elevated platforms to escape the waters.
Heavy rain has also drenched southern China, with the city of Shenzhen – across the border from Hong Kong – reporting its biggest rains since records began in 1952.
Hundreds of flights have been suspended in the wider Guangdong province, while local authorities warned of flash floods and advised residents in low-lying areas to consider evacuations.
Tens of millions of people live in the densely populated coastal areas of southern China.
In Hong Kong, the city’s cross harbour tunnel, a key route connecting the main island to the Kowloon peninsula in its north, was also inundated.
More than 200mm of rain was recorded on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the north-eastern part of the city between 18:00 local time (10:00 GMT) and midnight – a total that exceeds the amount the entire city typically receives within certain months.
On Friday, Shenzhen was reportedly preparing to discharge water from its reservoirs, which Hong Kong officials warned could lead to flooding in parts of northern Hong Kong.
China’s meteorological administration expects extreme rainfall to continue in the country’s southwestern region on Friday and Saturday.
The latest downpour comes less than a week after two typhoons, Saola and Haikui, hit southern China in quick succession – and sparked a citywide shutdown in Hong Kong.
Climate chance has increased the intensity and frequency of tropical storms, leading to an increase in flash flooding and greater damage.