Many kids around the city will be rejoicing today. While they may not have been able to build snowmen or have snow fights, they have been given the day off school. Seniors, however, were not so lucky.
Average temperatures dropped to 3.1 degrees yesterday as a night of frigid, windy weather attracted hoards of frost chasers to the city’s highest mountain.
Kindergartens, primary schools and those catering to people with intellectual or physical disabilities are closed today due to the cold, the Education Bureau said.
Motorists travelling up Hong Kong’s highest peak, Tai Mo Shan, jammed the narrow road overnight. Some opted to get out and walk up the frost-covered asphalt, risking falls on the ice-covered roads.
As of 6pm on Sunday 111 people had been injured and 45 were hospitalised, some with hypothermia.
While we were wrapped up warm and toasty over ther weekend, for the coldest weather Hong Kong has seen in 59 years, homless streetsleepers had to remain outside in the cold and damp yesterday.
Many were shut out of government shelters, which only open in the evening to the next morning.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of domestic helpers, who would otherwise have nowhere else to go on their regular day off, shivered in parks, and under flyovers and footbridges.
In Sham Shui Po, where it was as 2.9 degrees Celsius during daytime, street sleepers sought some warmth in a subway, tucking underneath layers of blankets and curling up against the mosaic-tiled wall.
One of them, a Mr Koo, idled away his time watching passers-by in woollen hats, parkas or windcheaters hurry through the subway. “I cover myself with whatever I have,” said 45-year-old Koo, who was wearing three layers of pants.
Koo took to sheltering in the same subway months ago after finding his daily wage of up to HK$350 as a cleaner, and sometimes a site worker, was not enough to support home in a proper home.
On Sunday night, the Home Affairs Department opened 17 temporary shelters for people seeking respite from the bitter cold. But the shelters only remain open until 8.30am on Monday.
Ng Wai-tung, a veteran in helping street sleepers at the Society for Community Organisation, said some homeless people shied away from government shelters because they feared their belongings might be stolen or that they might not get along well with others seeking temporary refuge.