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Monday, January 25, 2016, 14:42

Hong Kong in the grip of severe cold


Hong Kong in the grip of severe cold
Three girls walk in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong on Jan 24, 2016. A cold snap gripped Hong Kong on January 24, with residents shivering as temperatures plunged to the lowest point in nearly 60 years and frost dusted the mountaintops of a city accustomed to a subtropical climate. (AFP PHOTO / ISAAC LAWRENCE)

HONG KONG - Rescue workers extracted their final evacuee at dawn Monday morning after a more than a 20-hour operation to assist more than 100 people trapped at Tai Mo Shan.

Overnight temperatures near the Peak touched five below zero as about 70 people were sent to hospital for cold-weather related ailments or ice-related injuries, with three of recieving critical care.

More than 200 Fire Services Department rescuers assisted by police were deployed to the scene after a number of frost-chasers and participants in a previously-scheduled run were stranded at the peak.

Urban temperatures are expected to rebound to a high of 9 degrees Celsius today, with the cold weather warning expected to remain in place for much of the coming week.

Relatively extreme weather for Hong Kong spurred an interest in revelers to experience near zero degree temperatures in Tai Mo Shan, clogging narrow access roads which prevented emergency vehicles from reaching their targets.

Kindergartens, primary and special schools remained closed Monday as announced the day before owing to the very cold weather, leaving many parents scrambling for last minute arrangements. It also prompted calls for more lead time when the Education Bureau chooses to announce closures if the mercury is forecast to dip below 5 degrees Celsius.

Some middle and secondary schools volunteered to join the suspension, citing low temperatures. Some students who managed to turn up complained of unequal treatment with heating in schools inadequate.

Pricey produce

Prices for local produce are expected to spike as extreme cold weather hits regional farmers.

Overnight temperatures hovering around zero degrees are withering crops in southern China with three days of frost warnings vexing farmers in the New Territories.

A 5,000 square-foot outdoor Yuen Long organic vegetable farm is apprehensive its harvest of carrots, celery and romaine crop will be delayed by a month due to frigid conditions. Hydroponic and greenhouse operations are expected to be less affected but electrical bills to maintain the indoor ecosystems are expected to rise.


Heaters were in short supply at home furnishing and appliances stores at the start of the week, with Aberdeen’s Japan Home Centre having sold out all ten models, including floor models, within two hours of opening over the weekend. The Fortress outlet across the street was still accepting orders for goods delivered Wednesday.

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