Thrill-seeking Hongkongers warned against putting lives at risk by chasing waves, braving strong winds during extreme weather

Thrill-seeking Hongkongers warned against putting lives at risk by chasing waves, braving strong winds during extreme weather

A Hong Kong official has warned thrill-seeking residents against putting lives at risk by chasing big ocean waves or braving strong winds during extreme weather, as authorities unveiled measures to better prepare the public for such conditions and manage flooding.

Undersecretary for Security Michael Cheuk Hau-yip said on Thursday such people were not only endangering their own lives but also those of emergency service personnel.

He condemned anyone who ignored safety warnings, saying police would carry out enforcement action when necessary. Cheuk noted that during typhoon seasons, some officers repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to persuade windsurfers in the eastern parts of the city to come back to the shore.

“Please do not put our frontline officers in dangerous situations,” he said.

Cheuk was speaking at a cross-departmental press briefing led by the city’s No 2 official, Eric Chan Kwok-ki, where authorities also revealed upgraded measures to better prevent and deal with the aftermath of extreme weather events following two powerful rainstorms that struck the city in September last year and earlier this month.

Development chief Bernadette Linn Hon-ho said her bureau would seek funding for seven large-scale projects to prevent flooding in Wong Tai Sin and the eastern parts of Hong Kong Island, which were badly affected last autumn.

She said improvement works, such as building 11 underground storage facilities for rainwater, were expected to be completed between 2024 and 2030.

“We have done a lot of preventive drainage works since September and will try to get more done by the imminent rainy season,” she said.

Linn added that the number of teams allocated to dealing with flooding had been increased to 160 from 144, and the groups were now spread across 30 spots instead of 13 to allow quicker response times.

Environment chief Tse Chin-wan said the Observatory would add features to its mobile app, which he urged residents to download, and step up the issuing of timely information.

“Rainy weather is harder to detect in a very advanced stage – the earlier the warning, the higher the risk of inaccuracy,” he said. “So what we will do is ensure updated information will be frequently released through the Observatory.”

A car makes it way through floodwaters in Sai Kung. Authorities have come under fire over their preparedness for extreme weather events. Photo: Dickson Lee

The city was battered by what Chan called a “once-in-500-years” storm last September. The extreme weather event triggered the city’s longest-yet black rainstorm warning, turned streets into rivers, stranded drivers in vehicles, and flooded shopping centres and railway stations, leaving more than 100 people in hospital.

Facing public anger over the perceived unpreparedness for the impact of the record-breaking downpours which kept the highest-level rainstorm warning in force for 16 hours, the government earlier promised a review but insisted it was difficult to predict the sudden onset of such extreme weather events.

Hong Kong also took a weather roller-coaster ride on May 4, with the Observatory warning of a possible black rainstorm alert, before eventually lowering its red warning to amber within hours as thunderstorms and flooding left hikers stranded, schools suspended, traffic disrupted and businesses closed.

Areas in the eastern part of Hong Kong – such as Sai Kung, Tseung Kwan O and Kwun Tong – suffered the most, and authorities set up nine shelters across the city and deployed 12 care teams to mitigate the effects of the rainstorm.



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