HongKong

Hong Kong official urges better Greater Bay Area emergency response measures


Hong Kong and the rest of the Greater Bay Area should step up emergency response capabilities to tackle the challenges of extreme weather, the city’s No 2 official has said, as ministers signed a cooperation agreement.

Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki said on Friday the deal would pave the way for a cross-border response mechanism among the 11 bay area cities which would allow authorities to deploy personnel in emergencies.

“The Greater Bay Area is a typical climate-vulnerable region that is easily affected by typhoons, heavy rains and other impacts,” Chan said at a signing ceremony.

The bay area is Beijing’s plan to turn Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong province into a hi-tech economic powerhouse.

Chan cited the recent example of Guangdong recording average rainfall of 497.4mm in April alone – 1.8 times higher than the same period in normal years – as well as the “extraordinarily” heavy 145.5mm of rainfall logged in just an hour in Tseung Kwan O early last month.

“All these circumstances reflect that the challenges of extreme weather are imminent. It is even more important to strengthen emergency management cooperation in the Greater Bay Area,” he said.

Zhang Hu, executive vice-governor of Guangdong province, who also attended the ceremony, said he expected the agreement would help promote cooperation in emergency management.

He also called for strengthening training through conducting joint drills, ensuring adequate emergency material supply and enhancing cross-border rescue capabilities.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement issued hours after the ceremony that authorities hoped to set up a cross-border task force on emergency management cooperation.

It said the governments hoped to schedule a first meeting for the task force this year, which would allow officials to take stock of their experiences and chart out future plans.

Officials from Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau signing the cooperation agreement. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Details of the agreement signed by the security chiefs from Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong were not disclosed at the ceremony.

But according to a paper the Security Bureau submitted to the Legislative Council in March, the agreement covers three main areas of cooperation, which included last year’s establishment of the “Greater Bay Area fire and rescue platform” to share information such as operational experience.

The agreement will also see the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau create a list of emergency materials, equipment, personnel and experts, with a joint command mechanism to be set up to respond to major disasters.

Before the ceremony, several joint drills were organised with personnel from the three places, including a three-day one held in Jiangmen to address how to respond to major earthquakes.



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