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Consulate rescues 36 Pinoys stranded in tourist bus amid typhoon

17 September 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap 

The Filipino tourists were picked up from Winward 800 Hotel in Tsing Yi

The Philippine Consulate is set to lodge a complaint with Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council after a group of Filipino tourists were put on a bus bound for the airport at the height of severe typhoon Mangkhut, then left stranded for hours after the vehicle’s windshield was shattered by strong winds.

Danny Baldon of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section said the 36 Filipinos, who included two children and three senior citizens, were fetched from the Winland Hotel 888 in Tsing Yi at 10am, when severe typhoon Mangkhut had just roared into Hong Kong.

As they approached Tsing Ma bridge, strong winds reportedly shattered the bus’ windshield, forcing it to stop.

But instead of finding ways to get the passengers back to safety, the tour escort allegedly kept them on the bus for hours, until some of them found a way to contact the Consulate late in the afternoon.

“Kami pa ang tumawag sa 999 para ma-rescue sila,” said Baldon.

He said the bus driver offered no credible explanation as to why he did not seek help immediately, and why he insisted on taking them to the airport despite the hoisting of the strongest typhoon signal in the territory.

“Pilit niyang sinasabi na signal no 8 lang nung umalis sila, pero sabi ko, kahit signal 8 lang iyon dapat hindi pa rin sila tumuloy dahil kung ganoon kalakas ang bagyo ay lahat ng public transportation e itinitigil na,” said Baldon.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, typhoon signal no 10, the highest possible was raised at 9:40am. It was lowered to T8 at 7:40pm, or 10 hours later, making it one of the most intense storms to have hit the city.
Transportation was paralyzed across Hong Kong
Nearly 900 flights were cancelled, stranding 100,000 passengers
This house in Yuen Long had its kitchen wrecked by Mangkhut's strong winds
Even the IFC in Central was not spared Mangkhut's wrath
One of the worst areas affected was Heng Fa Chuen in Chai Wan, where extensive flooding occurred

All the tourists were reportedly driven back to the hotel where they were to spend the night.
Baldon said they were supposed to take different flights back to the Philippines, but it was certain most would not have been able to leave since most planes were grounded as Magkhut lingered in the city for most of the day.

According to local media reports, nearly 900 flights out of Hong Kong International Airport were cancelled during the day, with about 100,000  travelers affected. Several hundred other flights were delayed.

About 100 people are reported to have sought treatment in hospitals due to typhoon-related complaints, but there had been no fatalities. One of the most seriously injured was a Filipina tourist who was hit by flying debris in Tsimshatsui, and had to undergo surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan for wounds to her feet and hands.

According to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, several Filipina migrant workers had called up their hotline to relay concerns and report slight injuries, but no one required medical treatment.

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