Published: 17:40, April 3, 2024 | Updated: 18:10, April 3, 2024
GBA to set up joint emergency response system
By Fang Xue in Hong Kong

A man jogs along the shore at Hong Kong Cultural Centre Promenade Bridge, in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, as the Hong Kong Observatory raised its No 8 Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal on July 17, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will sign an agreement with the Macao SAR and Guangdong province next month, before the typhoon season, to establish an emergency coordination mechanism for a quicker response to rainstorms, earthquakes and other emergencies involving cross-boundary collaboration.

The accord, with Hong Kong taking the lead in drafting it, will cover the exchange of emergency-response expertise, sharing of rescue resources and a joint command mechanism under critical circumstances in the 11-city cluster of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

In the evening of Sept 7, the HKSAR was alerted by the Shenzhen authorities about the possible discharge of floodwaters from the Shenzhen Reservoir 45 minutes in advance, and the SAR government informed the press and the public 16 minutes before the discharge occurred at midnight

Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung told a Legislative Council panel meeting on Tuesday the authorities in the three regions will set up a government-led emergency rescue mechanism with the participation of professional rescue teams. The aim is to improve information coordination and sharing of resources, technology development and talent training in meeting an emergency response among Hong Kong, Macao and the nine Guangdong cities in the Greater Bay Area.

Explaining how the new mechanism could strengthen cross-boundary coordination in an emergency, he cited the record-breaking rainstorm brought by super typhoon Saola in September last year.

In the evening of Sept 7, the HKSAR was alerted by the Shenzhen authorities about the possible discharge of floodwaters from the Shenzhen Reservoir 45 minutes in advance, and the SAR government informed the press and the public 16 minutes before the discharge occurred at midnight.

Tang said although Hong Kong had enough time to notify affected areas and residents, and serious consequences were averted, both cities agreed to further improve on information sharing, enabling them to be better prepared for adverse weather conditions.

The typhoon season is usually between June and October each year. The Hong Kong Observatory has forecast that about five to eight tropical cyclones would hit the region this year.

Under the new mechanism, the three regions will create a joint command system to deal with emergencies, and ensure more timely and efficient communication, Tang said.

Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong will also organize a joint exercise on handling earthquake disasters in the first half of this year to smoothen cross-boundary rescue operations.

Tang said Hong Kong can benefit from resource sharing, as the city would be able to borrow heavy rescue equipment manufactured in Guangdong to upgrade the city’s rescue capacity, adding that the three regions are drafting a list concerning rescue equipment, vehicles and personnel.

The HKSAR also plans to build channels to speed up boundary crossings to facilitate the transportation of rescue resources. The new mechanism will also help the three regions boost exchanges of knowledge, such as holding training courses on emergency rescue operations.

Contact the writer at fangxue@chinadailyhk.com