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Typhoon Mangkhut disrupts hundreds of HK flights

Flights to and from city either cancelled or retimed, with nearly 100,000 travellers affected

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At midday on Sunday, Hong Kong's normally teeming streets were devoid of people and cars. The weather authority issued its highest typhoon warning - a signal 10.

Hong Kong

TYPHOON Mangkhut battered Hong Kong's airport, a central transit point for much of Asia. The airport was virtually shut down, with 543 flights cancelled, disrupting nearly 100,000 travellers. The outdoor sections of the city's vaunted subway system were taken out of service.

Most flights scheduled to fly from Singapore to Hong Kong on Sunday were cancelled due to the super typhoon, The Straits Times reported.

As at 1pm, Changi Airport's website showed that more than 30 flights by major airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and American Airlines, were cancelled.

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Three flights - Singapore Airlines SQ868, Ethiopian Airlines ET1323 and Virgin Australia VA5646 - were listed as having been retimed, and had been rescheduled to early Monday.

Their original, scheduled arrival in Hong Kong had also been delayed from 11.50pm on Sunday to 5.55am on Monday.

An advisory on the Changi Airport website states: "Due to Typhoon Mangkhut, flights to and from Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou and Shenzhen may be affected. Passengers are advised to check with their respective airlines, as well as the flight status page, for the latest updates."

Flights from Hong Kong were also affected. According to the Changi Airport website, about 28 flights from Hong Kong to Singapore on Sunday had been cancelled while nine flights landed safely earlier.

Typhoon Mangkhut could affect as many as 30.5 million people across Asia, according to the United Nations Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

Reuters reported that the super typhoon made landfall in China's Guangdong on Sunday, the country's most populous province, after wreaking havoc in Hong Kong and Macau and killing at least 29 people in the Philippines.

Packing gale force winds of more than 200 kph, tropical cyclone Mangkhut is considered to be the strongest to hit the region this year, equivalent to a maximum Category 5 "intense hurricane" in the Atlantic.

The eye of Mangkhut, the Thai name for South-east Asia's mangosteen fruit, skirted 100 km south of Hong Kong but the former British colony was still caught in the typhoon's swirling bands of rain and gale-force winds.

Hong Kong raised its highest No 10 typhoon signal at mid-morning as ferocious winds uprooted trees and smashed windows in office and residential buildings, some of which swayed in the gusts, residents said.

"It swayed for quite a long time, at least two hours. It made me feel so dizzy," said Elaine Wong, who lives in a high-rise tower in Kowloon.

Water levels surged 3.5m in some places, waves swamped roads and washed up live fish, washing into some residential blocks and a mall in an eastern district.

"It's the worst I've seen," resident Martin Wong told Reuters. "I've not seen the roads flood like this, (and) the windows shake like this, before." Philippine authorities said a baby and a toddler were among the 29 dead, most of them in landslides in mountainous areas that left at least 13 missing.

"The landslides happened as some residents returned to their homes after the typhoon," disaster response coordinator Francis Tolentino told DZMM Radio, adding that most of the 5.7 million people affected had made advance preparations.

"It was not so severe as we expected it to be because earlier, it was noted it would also be strong," said President Rodrigo Duterte, following an aerial survey of some affected areas.

In Macau, which halted casino gambling late on Saturday and put China's People's Liberation Army on standby for disaster relief help, some streets were flooded.

China has ordered thousands of boats to return to harbour, and evacuated thousands of offshore oil platform workers, the state news agency Xinhua said. Ports, oil refineries and industrial plants in the area have been shut. Power to some areas were also reduced as a precaution.

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