Typhoon to hit Chinese coast
RAW VISION: Typhoon Usagi is approaching Hong Kong with a category three warning which is expected to elevate to a category eight.PT1M28S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2u8qj 620 349 September 23, 2013
Severe Typhoon Usagi was on Sunday barrelling towards Hong Kong, shutting down one of the world's busiest sea ports and throwing flight schedules into disarray from Europe to the United States.
Usagi - which means rabbit in Japanese - packed winds of 165 km/h as it closed in on China's densely populated Pearl River Delta, forcing some residents in vulnerable areas to tape up windows and stock up on supplies.
The storm, described by meteorologists as the most powerful anywhere on Earth this year, killed two people in the Philippines and unleashed landslides in Taiwan en route to Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Observatory, issuing the second of a five-step tropical storm warning, said it was likely to bring "severe" disruption to the city with transport systems affected and expectations of high waves and flooding in low-lying areas.
At the Chek Lap Kok airport, airline counters were besieged by anxious passengers hoping to rebook their flights after the Cathay Pacific group said it was cancelling all its flights from 6pm (2000 AEST) on Sunday.
With many other airlines following Cathay's lead, only a handful of flights were still scheduled to land or take off after 6pm.
Incoming flights from London, Sydney and Chicago among other cities were cancelled, and thousands of people risked being stranded at their point of origin or in Hong Kong.
Operators at Hong Kong's maritime cargo port, one of the busiest in the world, ceased work late on Saturday, stranding many giant tankers in sea channels not far from shore.
The financial hub is well versed in typhoon preparations and enforces strict building codes, so rarely suffers major loss of life as a result of tropical storms.
But the observatory warned against complacency, saying that Usagi was set to become the strongest storm to hit Hong Kong since 1979 when typhoon Hope killed a dozen people and injured 260.
On its way to Hong Kong and southern China, Usagi forced the evacuation of some 3400 people in southern Taiwan, dumped more than 70 centimetres of rain on Hualien city, and forced more than 100 flights to be cancelled to and from the island.