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Cathay Pacific has cancelled over 700 flights – including departures connecting Hong Kong with Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland – as enormous Super Typhoon Mangkhut, packing winds of more than 200 km/h, slams into Hong Kong and China.

The super typhoon is expected to hit mainland China today. Cathay advised yesterday: “Super Typhoon Mangkhut is affecting Hong Kong this weekend, with the closest approach on Sunday, 16 September, and adverse weather expected into Monday, 17 September. This is having a significant impact on flight operations at Hong Kong International Airport.

“Our return to normal flight operations on Monday, 17 September, will still be contingent upon the weather conditions. We will likely have a very slow resumption of service with continued delays and some cancellations.”

The airline’s latest travel advisories can be viewed on its website here.

Many passengers, particularly those heading from Australia to Europe, are being placed on other airlines via other hubs.

Cathay’s sister airline, Cathay Dragon, cancelled all Sunday’s flights and the cancellations are expected to run into today.

Ironically, Cathay Pacific is just beginning to resume flights to Osaka Kansai International Airport (KIX), which has partially re-opened with limited operating capacity, following extensive damage caused by Typhoon Jebi earlier this month.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued advisories for Macau, Hong Kong and China at the weekend – yet curiously omitted the Philippines, which has also been hit hard by Super Typhoon Mangkhut, with over 30 people killed.

DFAT’s latest update: “Super Typhoon Mangkhut is approaching the coast of Guandong, posing a considerable threat to Macau and the Pearl River Delta. Destructive winds, heavy rain and storm surges may cause flooding in low-lying coastal areas.”

More than 1100 flights arrive and depart daily from Hong Kong International Airport.

China’s National Meteorological Centre issued its highest possible warning – Red Alert – on Saturday afternoon.

Chinese authorities in Guangdong province were reported yesterday to have called back to port more than 30,000 fishing boats and set emergency “combat readiness” precautions in place at two nuclear power plants that stand in the path of Super Typhoon Mangkhut.

Philippine officials say the super typhoon has killed at least 30 people in the main island of Luzon, in the country’s north.

Written by Peter Needham