The year's most powerful typhoon crashed into southern China on Sunday evening, killing atleast 20 people and forcing hundreds of flight cancellations in nearby Hong Kong as heavy rain and fierce winds were brought to the region.
The typhoon was earlier on a crash course with Hong Kong, but veered away at the last minute, making landfall near the city of Shanwei in the Chinese province of Guangdong.
Authorities in Guangdong initiated an emergency response plan for the Daya Bay nuclear power station northeast of Hong Kong as Usagi approached, ordering four of six reactors to operate at a reduced load, the agency said.
Police in Shanwei ordered more than 8,000 fishing boats to return to port and more than 1,200 residents were shuttled to temporary shelters.
Usagi – Japanese for rabbit – was classified as a severe typhoon, packing sustained winds of 175 kilometers (109 miles) per hour, with gusts of up to 213 kph (132 mph). The typhoon It shut down one of the world's busiest sea ports and severely disrupted flight schedules from the US and Europe.
Hong Kong International Airport said 370 arriving and departing flights were canceled and another 64 delayed, AP reports. Ferry services between Hong Kong and nearby Macau and outlying islands were suspended as the observatory raised the No. 8 storm warning signal, the third highest on a five-point scale.
The storm, characterized by meteorologists as the most powerful anywhere on Earth this year, earlier killed two people in the Philippines and sparked landslides in Taiwan en route to southern China. Nine people in Taiwan were reportedly injured by falling trees.
Usagi was downgraded from a super typhoon on Saturday as its sustained winds fell below 241 kilometers (150 miles) per hour as it passed through the the Luzon Strait, which separates the Philippines and Taiwan.
In response to the imminent threat the Hong Kong authorities warned citizens to brace themselves for flooding and powerful winds, while the Cathay Pacific airline has announced it will suspend services when the storm strikes.