An intense rainstorm caught Hong Kong unprepared on Saturday, turning day into night, leaving one man dead after a lightning strike and sparking rescue operations for five people who fell into the sea in two separate boating accidents.
The sudden onslaught prompted the Observatory to issue its first red rainstorm warning of the year as heavy showers and strong winds lashed the city, sending people scurrying for shelter while dark clouds reduced visibility to night-time levels.
A man and a woman fell off a sailing yacht boat from Sai Kung near the Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier at around 2.50pm. They were rescued about an hour later by a passing vessel.
Following that, a fishing boat capsized in choppy waters off Pak Pai with two men and two women on board. Police said one of the women was rescued and a search for the others was under way.
In a separate incident, a man was struck by lightning at Cheung Shan in Tai O. He was unconscious when sent to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan, where he was later certified dead.
Although the red rainstorm warning was downgraded to amber at 3.20pm, forecasters warned of serious flooding and road congestion, a far cry from their prediction on Friday of "sporadic rain" with "sunny intervals".
"A band of intense thundery showers is affecting the coastal areas of Guangdong. Locally, the heavy showers in the afternoon brought more than 50mm of rainfall to widespread areas," the Observatory said.
"Heavy rain is affecting the northern part of the New Territories, especially in the Sheung Shui area. More than 70mm of rainfall has been recorded in the past one hour."
The freak weather ruined Easter holiday plans for many locals and visitors.
The Peak Tram halted operations due to a fallen tree blown down by strong winds. The Ngong Ping 360 cable car on Lantau Island also suspended services.
The Observatory said gusts reaching 100km/h or more could continue to affect the city.
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