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HONG KONG -- Hong Kong is preparing for a super typhoon that is predicted to land this weekend and may be the strongest ever in the city since records began.
The upcoming Super Typhoon Mangkhut will be the second typhoon hitting Hong Kong this week. The Hong Kong Observatory issued typhoon signal No. 3 on Wednesday as winds strengthened with Tropical Storm Barijat.
All the warning signals related to Tropical Storm Barijat were cancelled early Thursday, but officials kept warning of a much greater threat from Mangkhut.
It is forecast to be more powerful than all the super typhoons Hong Kong has experienced in decades, including the notorious 1962 Super Typhoon Wanda that left heavy casualties, as well as Super Typhoon Hato that triggered the highest-level typhoon warning signal last year.
To review the city"s preparedness and contingency plan for the super typhoon, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government convened Wednesday afternoon an inter-departmental meeting that involved 30 government bureaux, departments and organizations.
The meeting discussed issues on response plans of emergency, monitoring and co-ordination, preventive measures, information flow and public announcement, as well as logistic support.
The HKSAR government"s Secretary for Security John Lee directed all emergency response departments to have their deployment and emergency response plans ready for the possible threats, and reminded that all departments should take timely precautions and maintain close liaison and co-ordination while the Security Bureau would closely monitor the situation.
The HKSAR government said it will convene another inter-departmental meeting on Friday to evaluate the latest situation.
In a letter to all public works contractors, the Development Bureau of the HKSAR government called public works contractors to keep up vigilance to ensure the safety of construction sites and the public.
According to the latest forecast by the Hong Kong Observatory, Mangkhut, with the maximum sustained wind near center at the speed of 240 km/h, will enter the South China Sea on Saturday.
It is predicted to be closest to Hong Kong on Sunday and remain its intensity at the level of a super typhoon, bringing adverse weather to the city.
The Hong Kong Observatory has been issuing special weather tips about Super Typhoon Mangkhut since Tuesday, warning that it may issue a No. 8 typhoon signal on Sunday.
"As Mangkhut has a large circulation with intense winds, it will pose a considerable threat to the coast of Guangdong. Although there are still uncertainties in its track, Mangkhut is expected to bring adverse weather to Hong Kong, with frequent squalls and heavy rain, according to the present forecast track," senior scientific officer at the observatory Lam Ching-chi said, urging people to prepare for Mangkhut"s arrival.
"Seas will be very rough with swells, together with storm surges. Low-lying areas may have flooding or backflow of sea water," Lam said.
In its most updated tips, the observatory advised the public to be fully prepared and to complete all precautionary measures in the next few days. It also reminded citizens of continuing to stay tuned to the latest information on Mangkhut issued by the observatory.
Considering the possible bad weather brought by Mangkhut, several Hong Kong-based airlines have announced to waive rebooking fees for passengers scheduled to travel on Sunday and Monday.