The government has raised its guard and mobilized dozens of departments in disaster preparedness as a super typhoon heads toward the region, packing gale-force winds.
On Wednesday, an inter-departmental meeting was held to review the preparedness and contingency plans for Typhoon Mangkhut, whose strength was seen equal to a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane and still gaining strength.
Authorities want to ensure that suitable measures are in place and government agencies work in coordination to help minimize the potential impact of the storm that could be the most intense one of its kind ever to hit the city.
Mangkhut is expected to arrive within about 800 kilometers of Hong Kong on Saturday prior to its closest approach the next day.
The Wednesday afternoon meeting, chaired by Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, was attended by representatives from 30 government bureaus, departments and organizations.
Participants included representatives from the Civil Engineering and Development Department, Drainage Services Department, Education Bureau, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Fire Services Department, Highways Department, Transport Department, and Water Supplies Department, as well as the police and the Observatory.
Asking all the departments, especially emergency rescue units, to get prepared for the super typhoon, Lee reminded that they should maintain close liaison and coordination, according to a government statement.
The Security Bureau would closely monitor the situation, said the statement.
The security chief said his bureau may escalate the emergency response level and activate the Emergency Monitoring and Support Centre if necessary.
To evaluate the latest situation, the government will convene another inter-departmental meeting on Friday, when all departments will report their preparatory work and operational arrangements under contingency plans.
The Observatory warned on Tuesday that Mangkhut, which continues to move west over the Pacific Ocean and may pack a maximum sustained wind near the typhoon center of 240 kilometers per hour by Friday.
Based on the latest forecast, the super typhoon will enter South China Sea by Saturday before moving quickly towards and posing considerable threat to the coastal area of Guangdong, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Although there are still uncertainties over its track, Mangkhut is expected to bring adverse weather to Hong Kong on Sunday with frequent squalls and heavy rain, which will cause seas to be very rough with swells and low-lying areas possibly witnessing flooding or backflow of seawater, the Observatory said.
Members of the public are advised to be fully prepared and to complete all precautionary measures in the next few days.
Macau, which is only some 60 kilometers away from Hong Kong, is also getting nervous over Mangkhut, given that the city was battered by Typhoon Hato last year.
The former Portuguese colony’s Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau warned on Wednesday that Mangkhut’s strength and impact could be very similar to that of Hato.
Fearing a repeat of the disaster and disruptions caused by last year’s typhoon, Macau residents have begun to hoard daily supplies, reports say.
Several supermarkets in the city saw a run on essential items such as food products and bottled water, according to the reports.
Also, duct tape was much in demand as people planned to use it to secure windows.
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