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Hong Kong pollution hits highest rating on hottest day of the year

Hundreds of flights cancelled or disrupted as super typhoon Nepartak slams Taiwan

Pollution levels across Hong Kong hit the government’s highest rating on the hottest day of the year on Friday, while Taiwan and eastern China continued to feel the force of severe typhoon Nepartak.

Murk and haze obscured the view across Victoria Harbour as air quality indicators at pollution monitoring stations clocked the highest “serious” category at all sites except the remote island of Tap Mun near Sai Kung which registered as “very high”.

“The intense sunshine enhances photochemical smog activities and the formation of ozone, resulting in high pollution in the region,” the Environmental Protection Department said.

Children, old people and those with heart or respiratory illnesses were advised to avoid or minimise exercise and outdoor activity.

As the chance of a tropical cyclone warning diminished, the Observatory recorded readings of 37 degrees Celsius throughout the afternoon in Ta Kwu Ling in the New Territories. Temperatures climbed to 36 degrees in Causeway Bay and Happy Valley.

Hundreds of flights steered clear of the path of super typhoon Nepartak as the eye of the storm made landfall on Friday morning, battering the southern tip of Taiwan.

The typhoon, now downgraded to “severe” after earlier reaching “super” status with wind speeds of 205km/h as it hit land, rolled onwards up the east China coast towards Fujian province.

Hong Kong’s weather authority said: “On this forecast track, the chance of strong winds in Hong Kong brought by Nepartak will be relatively low. The Hong Kong Observatory will closely monitor the movement of Nepartak and see if it will take on a more westerly track.”

On the second day of air travel disruption, about 400 flights were cancelled to and from Taiwan. Over 60 flights between the island and Hong Kong were also axed on Friday.

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the island’s largest airport, looked to be spared a direct hit. The eye of the storm left Taiwan around 2pm.

But 250 flights departing and arriving at the Taipei hub were still cancelled, with dozens more delayed.

Air travel disruption between Hong Kong and Taiwan was expected to last throughout the day as Nepartak slowly powered across the island.

The air travel knock-on effect was expected to be felt on the mainland, where Nepartak was set to make landfall in the next 24 hours, potentially making a direct hit on Xiamen, in Fujian province. Xiamen airport and nearby Fuzhou and Xiamen already had flight cancellations.

Hong Kong carriers Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and Hong Kong Airlines between them scrubbed two dozen flights to Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung. Cathay Pacific and Dragonair also cancelled stopover flights from Taipei to Japan.

Mainland carriers grounded dozens of flights bound for Taiwan too.

Taiwan’s Eva Air sought to minimise disruption by moving some of its international flights from the island to depart ahead of schedule on Thursday. The airline delayed the arrival of flights bound for Taipei from Europe and the US, scheduling them to arrive after 9am Friday.

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