Reports of Damages and Loss of Life caused by the Typhoon of the 22nd - 23rd of September, 1874

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The Hongkong Government Gazette, 7th October, 1874, pages 571ff.

No. 161.


The following Reports of Damages and Loss of Life caused by the Typhoon of the 22nd-23rd of September, are published for general information.

By Command,

Colonial Secretary's Office, Hongkong, 14th October, 1874.

J. GARDINER AUSTIN, Colonial Secretary.


Captain Superintendent of Police to Colonial Secretary.

[No. 168.]           VICTORIA, HONGKONG,

30th September, 1874.

SIR, I have the honor to forward, for the information of H. E. the Governor, the following particulars as to deaths and losses caused by the Typhoon of 22nd and 23rd September, 1874, on the Island of Hongkong and in British Kowloong.

2.           The bodies of 17 Europeans and 604 Chinese have been recovered by the Police, and by them buried, or by the friends of the deceased.

3.           Over 200 houses have been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, as recorded in Appendix A; one house was also burnt.

4.           Two steamers, Albay and Leonor, have sunk in the Harbor, and the Pacific Mail Company's Steamer Alaska valued at $250,000, is on shore near Aberdeen, and will with difficulty be got off. About eight Ships are supposed to have been lost.

5.           The destruction of Chinese Junks and small boats, it is impossible to estimate. At Stone Cutters' Island about 100 were stranded; at Shau-ki-wan 37 large Junks, and several house boats; at Aberdeen about 100 Junks and Sampans; at Stanley no boat was left when the Typhoon was over.

6.           The telegraph posts were blown down in different parts of the Island, so as to prevent all communication. The majority of the lamp posts also lost their lanterns, and the Gas Works were so damaged that Gas could not be supplied to the Streets for two nights.

7.           The roads were almost impassable from the obstruction caused by the fallen trees.

8.           The loss of personal property is also great, nearly every person complaining of some loss or damage.

9.           The details that I have given above are of necessity meagre, the number of bodies recovered in all probability represents only 1/3 of the actual loss. In many eases the Junks and Ships have gone down with their crews on board, and are thus probably buried in their vessels.

10.         I enclose readings of the barometer taken at the Central Station by the Colonial Surgeon during the Typhoon,

I have the honor to be,


Your most obedient Servant,

W. M. DEANE, Captain Superintendent of Police



Appendix A.
List of Houses destroyed, &c., by Typhoon.


St. Joseph's Chapel


Praya East, 

Nos, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 22,

Tai Wong Street, 

7 and 8.

Tsoi Lung Lane, 


Nullah Lane,


Nullah Street, 

57, 58, 59, and 86.

Kat On Street, 


Station Street,


Hollywood Road, 

150, 152, 154, 156, 192, 194, and 196.

First Street, 

55 and 74.

Second Street, 


51, 53, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 65,

67, 63, 61, 59, and 57.

Third Street, 

10, 8, 14, 18, 12, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, and 1.

High Street, 

2 and 3.

Yii Lok Lane, 

1 to 12,

Shek Tong Tsui,

11 Houses.

Battery Road, .

Nos. 1, 3, 7, 52, and 5.

Kwong Foong Lane,

1, 2, and 3.

Praya Central,  

43, 44, 51, 82, 85, 86, 100, 50 and 75.

Yau Ma Ti, 

30 Houses.

Stone Cutters' Island,

Gaol Wall blown down.

Tai Kok Tsui,  

16 Houses.

Mong Kok, 

14 Houses


Greater part of Village.

Shau-ki Wan,

Several Houses.


Several Houses.


40 Houses.


3 Bungalows and 1 House in course of building.


2 Bungalows.

30th September, 1874,   W. M. DEANE,

Captain Superintendent of Police,

Appendix B.

Readings of Barometer taken at Central Station, 22nd and 23rd September, 1874.
















Sept. 22nd,1874,

7.30 P.M.



1.43 A.M.




9.00 „



1.48 „




10.00 „



1.55 „


Gusts heavy and frequent.


11.30 ,



2.03 „


Shifting to 70.

- Sept. 23rd, 1874,




2.15 „


Shifting rapidly between


0.05 A.M.


Bobbing, 3/100 ths.

2.20 „


28.80 & 85 till 2.40 A.M.


12.15 „



2.40 „




12.25 „



2.45 „




12.40 „



2.50 „




12.45 „



2.55 „


Gusts lighter and long


12.56 „



3.00 „




1.03 „



3.05 „




1.07 „



3.10 „


Gusts heavier and conti-


1.10 „



3.20 „




1.20 „



3.30 „




1.23' „



3.35 „


Gusts heavy but longer


1.27 „



3.45 „




1.34 „



4.00 „




1.35 „



4.05 „




1.37 „



4.20 „




W. M. DEANE, Captain Superintendent of Police

Registrar General to Colonial Secretary.

With reference to your Memo of the 28th ultimo, I beg to report, for His Excellency The Governor's information, that up to this date the number of Deaths, occasioned by the Typhoon, which have been registered, is as follows :-


Male Adults




Female Adults


Male Children


Female Children





Male Adults,




Female Adults


Male Children


Female Children




Total Deaths  796


The above refer to Chinese among whom, of course, the greatest number of Deaths occurred. I may take this opportunity of reporting to His Excellency the great aid given by the Board of Direction of the Tung-Wa Hospital in the late serious emergency. The Board hired boats and engaged men through whose instrumentality as many as 193 bodies of those enumerated above were buried.

Further, they hired the Sir Jamsetee Jeejeebhoy, steamer, and one of the members of the Board searched the neighbouring headlands and inlets, where they buried several other bodies of their countrymen, as well as those of two Europeans.

The energy displayed and the good work done by the Board deserves, I think, some recognition from the Government.

Besides the Deaths among Chinese,—and our returns will never show the actual loss of life, which may be roughly estimated at thrice that recorded,—there were among Europeans and other than Chinese:—


Male Adults,                14


Male Adults,                3

Total,                            17

Thus shewing a total of 813 Deaths registered.

The Surveyor General will report as to the destruction of houses belonging to Chinese, as I have furnished him with the details which I have received.

CECIL C. SMITH, Registrar Generals. Registrar General's Office, Hongkong, 7th October, 1874.

Surveyor General to Colonial Secretary.

[No. 156.]           SURVEYOR GENERAL'S OFFICE,

HONGKONG, 9th October, 1874.

SIR,—Pending the completion of more detailed accounts, I have the honour to submit, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, the present brief memorandum of the damage done to the city and outlying villages by the typhoon of the 23rd ultimo.

Doubtless the Harbour Master's Report will have contained a full account of all meteorological phenomena connected with the gale, and it will not therefore be necessary to repeat them here. It is to be regretted that no record should have been obtained of the pressure of the wind; as the Meteorological Station connected with the Government Hospital was swept away when that building collapsed, and no vestige was left of the Anemometrical register. That the island, however, was not many miles distant from the focus of the cyclone is proved not only by the intensity of the wind, but by a feature known to exist only within such a focus, namely, the abrupt intervals of calm during the height of the gale. These lulls were instantaneous often lasting as long as four or five minutes, and alternating with the most violent gusts, equally sudden, the conjoint action of the two became, as it were, that of a battering ram. To these sudden shocks, continued for three hours, buildings finally succumbed, that would have withstood the same pressure of the wind, had the latter been constant and steady.

Although the gale is said to have culminated while blowing from E.N.E., I find that it must have been almost as severe from the North and North- East, for quite as many buildings, fences, and walls in Victoria were found thrown over towards the South as in the direction of the West.

It was not, however, until after 1 A.M. that the wind had attained a sufficient force to cause the havoc which followed, and as this force had abated very considerably before 4 A.M., the entire work of destruction in Hongkong may be said to have been accomplished within the space of three hours. This does not, however, refer to life or property afloat, for in many places, junks and native craft had already been blown adrift and were foundering shortly after midnight.

The villages in Kowloon were for a time sheltered by the mountains at the back of that Peninsula and enjoyed comparative immunity until the wind following the cyclonic curve took them in flank and blew down the houses towards the West and North-West.

The following is a tabulated statement of the deaths which have occurred from the fall of buildings, of the number of houses totally destroyed, and of the number of houses so damaged as to necessitate their reconstruction. The number of buildings unroofed or otherwise damaged but not sufficiently so to entail their removal, is too large to be accurately ascertained in time for this Report, but it is roughly estimated that only four per cent of the houses in Victoria have escaped. In other words, from four to six thousand dwellings may be said to have suffered more or less according to their exposed or sheltered positions.













Yow Ma Tee



•• •





Ap-li Chow,     



Shau-ki Wan,    




Sai Wan,     



•• •

Little Hongkong,      

•• •


•• •

Hung Hom,



•• •

Tai Kok Tsui,    



•• •

Mong Kok



•• •

 Shek 0, 


all the village.

•• •






The Government Inspectors also report that the villages of Hok-Yün Ma-t'au-wai, Tokwawan, Matowkok, and Matowchung have been left without a house standing, and that the ruins of the two latter have been deserted by the villagers.

The foregoing table only gives the number of people who were found dead or dying under the ruins of houses, but it is feared, although no record can be obtained, that a very large number must have received bodily injuries, as it is known that as houses became unroofed and were threatened with annihilation, their inmates left them and went into the streets when the latter were quite dark and when building debris, roofing tiles and other missiles were being hurled from every housetop with a force almost beyond credence.

Towards 2 A.M., the violence of the wind had driven before it such a large volume of water into the harbour through the Lyeemoon Pass, that at this hour, which under ordinary circumstances should have been that of low water, the sea had risen considerably above the datum of high water and was washing over the lower portions of the City. Before 3 A.M., the Gas Works were submerged, and the gas supply being cut off, the City was during these most anxious moments suddenly plunged in darkness. About this time, Mr. CREAGH, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, and some other gentlemen who had collected together a few volunteers to put out a fire, which had broken out in Jervois Street, report that the latter as well as the streets between it, Bonham Strand, and the Praya, were four feet under water, that the people were up to their waists in water, and that the waves were buffeting the fire engine so that it could not be used. This evidence is corroborated by the marks left on many buildings after the sea retired, among others, the Harbour Master's Office had five feet of water in its lower storey.

The entire sea frontage of the City has been very seriously damaged. The Praya wall for a length of a ¾ mile between the City Hall and Toong Kai Street has been broken up, and will have to be entirely rebuilt with new material. From Toong Kai Street as far as the Sailors' Home, a distance of one mile, the wall shows so many breaches, and is altogether so undermined that it is still a matter of doubt whether long sections of it may not require rebuilding in like manner. In many places from the Eastern Guard House to East Point, the sea wall has also given way and will require reconstruction on a more solid basis than has hitherto been adopted in Hongkong. But as the very important subject of the sea defence of the City is one of special Report, now under preparation, it will be premature to dilate upon it in this memorandum.

After the sea retired, the Praya embankment, which previously formed one of the most capacious business thoroughfares of the City, was left in places like a sloping beach covered with the stones and concrete debris of the sea wall together with wrecks and spars. All these heaped one upon another, rendered the embankment almost impassable. In places where the sea wall was knocked down and the embankment behind it scoured away, some of the large mansions fronting the sea, and which are occupied by the principal merchants of the Colony, were already being undermined by the waves and they would have inevitably fallen had the gale lasted a few hours longer.

The wharves, both public and private, built out at right angles to the Praya along the whole extent of the City, have been swept away or otherwise injured, with the exception of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Ship Company's new jetty and the Hongkong Pier, both timber structures. Of the Government piers, but few have been left in such a condition as to be worth repairing, and it is deserving of attention that those apparently solid structures which were made of ashlar granite, succumbed long before the timber jetties in their neighbourhood. ,

The whole of Victoria is drained and sewered into the harbour, the drainage being led out at intervals along the Praya wall. The destruction of the wall, entailing the destruction of the sewer outlets, plugged for a time every channel of escape, and the sewage becoming dammed and stagnant, after twenty-four hours became putrid. The clog was rendered still more effective by the mass of sand which the waves washed on to the ruins so that many of the sewers became tightly packed or imbedded in it. The natural result was a most pestilential smell, rendered still more deleterious by the deadly factor of decomposing human bodies which continued to be washed ashore for several days. Happily, however, in spite of the hot weather which followed, the Public Health has not suffered, and after forty-eight hours, when the panic had in a measure subsided, and workmen could gradually be got together, gangs were employed to clear away the debris and to restore things to their normal condition.

In the country, many isolated houses have been knocked down, and the paddy fields and meadows under cultivation, which skirt the foreshores of the island, have for the most part been inundated by the sea. The rice crops have been destroyed and much misery has been entailed upon the poorest of the community.

I have the honour to append herewith an interesting report from the Superintendent of the Government Gardens, upon the damage done to the gardens and plantations of the Colony. When we call to mind the constant and laborious care which has been taken to induce upon this bare and ungenerous soil an artificial vegetation, and the successful and gratifying results which had so far attended these efforts, we cannot but be disheartened at the disastrous finale which has closed the efforts of so many years. A large proportion of the handsome and well-grown Banians and India rubber trees which lined the streets of the City and the roads leading out of it, have been blown down, and so many have been injured that we may not enjoy their grateful shade for years to come.

The Government Telegraph lines throughout the island were destroyed, the wind in many instances snapping the telegraph poles close to the ground. The shore ends of the submarine cables were also broken and communication severed.

In regard to Government buildings, I have the honour to report that nearly all have suffered to some extent, and that estimates of the cost of their repairs are being prepared and will be duly submitted.

Government House, together with the Law Courts, the Lock Hospital, and the Government Offices have escaped with greater immunity than any other buildings. In the latter, a chimney stack was blown down and fell through the roof; with the exception of this, and a few doors and windows blown in, there has been no damage of any consequence to report.

Government Civil Hospital.—This ricketty old structure has been left in, so ruined a state as to be no longer habitable. During the earlier stages of the gale, the doors and windows fronting the North were blown in one after another, and the wind having found a vent into the upper storey soon upheaved the roof carrying away portions of it to a distance of 200 yards. The brick verandahs on the South side were forced out of the perpendicular until they toppled over, and a part of the ceilings of the wards fell in. For more than an hour the terrified patients ran considerable risk of being killed, and Dr. CLAPHAM, the Resident Surgeon, informs me that owing to the intense darkness and the deafening roar of the wind, it was with the utmost difficulty that he succeeded in getting them together and sheltering them in one room of the lower storey, which had fortunately been but lately repaired, so that it was able to hold, out till daylight.

Victoria Gaol has portions unroofed, some of the windows of the north-eastern frontage blown in and glass broken. A survey was held under my direction after the typhoon, but no part of the Gaol was found so unsafe as to render possible the escape of prisoners. The principal damages to this building have been since made good.

Stone Cutters' Island Gaol.—This huge and imposing pile, founded by Sir HERCULES ROBINSON and designed to accommodate a convict establishment of 600 persons is now a heap of ruins. Many of the main walls are so cracked and so much out of plumb that they will have to be knocked down to prevent future accidents. The greater portions of the roof fell in, carrying away and crushing under it, the long galleries which divided the lines of cells. The basement portion of the eastern wing which was used as a Powder Magazine was buried in debris and the fall of the building entailed no inconsiderable risk of an explosion. The powder was, however, subsequently removed from under the ruins, and safely stored in the Hulk which is anchored off the island. The upper floors of Stone Cutters' Island Gaol were fortunately not tenanted.

Central Police Barracks and Police Stations.—Of all the Police buildings, the Police Officers' quarters have fared worst. These were unroofed and had some of the doors and windows in the North front blown in. The house was otherwise very severely shaken, some of the chimneys being blown down through the roof. The Central Police Barracks have also been partially unroofed, and much of the woodwork is destroyed. In the outlying villages, the Police Stations of Shau-ki-Wan and Stanley have suffered most, both have been very severely shaken, and I fear the latter will have to be almost entirely rebuilt. The Police Station at Yow-ma-tee was for a time four feet under water, and when the sea receded, it left a steam launch and other craft stranded on its basement floor.

The General Post Office, though it does not show many external signs of injury, has been greatly strained, owing to the weakness of the roof timbers. These have been in many places hollowed out by white ants, which for a short time back have infested the roof. I fear that a new roof to a portion of the house will be necessary.

Markets.—The six principal markets of Victoria have experienced the fate of other buildings, in some cases, having their roofs untiled, in others as in the Central market, having portions of their outer walls blown in, or so shattered as to require rebuilding.

Public Schools.—The insecure foundations of the Central School, made manifest by the earthquake of five months ago, have become still more so since the typhoon. Portions of the roof have come away from the walls, and these have gone slightly out of the perpendicular. A part of the tiling over the western Class Room has been stripped off, and some damage done to doors and windows. As it is contemplated at no distant date to erect a new School with increased accommodation, it will not be necessary, in regard to the Central School to go to greater expense than will suffice to maintain it in safety for a year or two to come. Three out of the four other Public Schools of the City have escaped with trifling damages, but the fourth one, i. e., Syingpoon School, has lost the roof off its western front.

The Police Courts have been partly unroofed, and the eastern verandahs laid in ruins.

Harbour Master's Office.—The unsheltered site of this public office, which is only 50 feet away from the Praya wall, exposed it to two dangers, and it has come through the ordeal much better than could have been expected. While the gale was stripping off the roofing, the sea that had knocked down the Praya was battering against its walls. At one time there were five feet of water in the basement, and the breakers were sending their spray over its roof. In spite of this, the damage is surprisingly small, being limited to portions of the roof which are untiled and to doors and windows which are shattered and unhinged. The meteorological Station was however entirely swept away, and not a trace of the instruments remains. The Harbour Officers' quarters have been very much shaken, and the tower over the building will have to be pulled down, as it is injured beyond repair.

The Clock Tower was much shaken, and the dials of the town clock were blown in and shattered to pieces.

The Pokfoolum Reservoir, which was full before the typhoon, had the water lifted out of it in sheets and hurled over the embankment. The embankment has not suffered material damage, the ballast on the inner slope was washed away, but has since been replaced. The guage basin and outlet pipe was so choked with ballast and sand, that the water supply to the City had to be cut off for a day to allow the outlet works to be cleaned and repaired.

Victoria Peak Buildings.—I do not think the Governor will require any information of me in regard to Mountain Lodge, since His Excellency passed the memorable night of the 23rd inside that house while it was being reduced to its present melancholy condition. The Aid-de-camp's bungalow has been so destroyed as to be no longer tenantable, and it will therefore have to be pulled down. The Pavilion or Public Officers' quarters, a wooden frame house, had one of its sides knocked in, and the tiling stripped off the roof. The new Sanitarium recently finished was also partially unroofed and lost several doors and windows. The Signal Station on the summit of Victoria Peak, has likewise been seriously injured, and will have to be rebuilt.

The Light Houses at Cape D'Aguilar and Green Island have not been seriously damaged. The Keeper's dwellings were partially unroofed.

Of the different Public buildings not Government offices, the Cathedral seems to have fared best, owing to its sheltered position against the irresistible power of the North-East wind. The Presbyterian Church was partially unroofed as also the Roman Catholic Cathedral. St. Joseph's Church in Garden Road was laid in ruins, two of its walls having been knocked down almost to the ground. The pediment of the City Hall was blown over and completely crushed the front portico of that building.

Some of the Barracks and other buildings belonging to the Military Authorities in the village of Stanley were blown down, and are now like the village itself a heap of ruins.

The City presents altogether a truly distressing sight, and it will be a long time before it recovers its normal state.

But the typhoon has not been without its lessons, for it has shown us how inadequate to cope against the fury of the wind is the style of building which the Colony has adopted. It may perhaps, on the other hand, not without truth, be said that the occurrence of the 23rd was unprecedented in the history of Hongkong, and that its effects could not therefore have been provided against or mitigated.

I will shortly have the honour to submit, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, estimates of the cost of restoring the-Public buildings to their former condition.

No time has however been lost in the work of re-roofing the more important buildings, lest a sudden storm of rain should increase the damage already done.

I have the honour to be,


Your most obedient Servant,

J. M. PRICE, Surveyor General.

Superintendent of Government Gardens to Surveyor General.


HONGKONG, 2nd October, 1874.

SIR,—I have the honour to forward, in compliance with instructions conveyed in C.S.O. No. 2862, a Report on the damage sustained by trees, shrubs, &c., during the late typhoon.


In the gardens, the largest trees, as might have been expected, suffered the most severely. Several of the oldest and largest have been entirely destroyed, e. g., one of the two large " Banians" Ficus retusa, some Casuarinas, a few of the old trees of Pinus sinensis, against the water tank, a fine Longan, a Tetranthera' a good tree of Sophora Japonica, and a few good Poincianas regia, although these, some of the finest specimen individual trees have been destroyed, the kinds are not lost to the gardens, as there are other specimens remaining of all those species. Many other specimens which were equally as fine as the above, although not destroyed, are severely damaged, having nearly the whole of their branches broken off, or the trees themselves laid prostrate on the ground. Many of the trees which have their branches broken off, but which have not had their roots broken or too severely strained, will, during the next year produce other very vigorous branches and luxuriant foliage.

A considerable number of the smaller trees and shrubs are entirely destroyed by having been broken off at the ground; while others have been blown over and a great portion of their roots exposed to air and light to such an extent as to be inimical to their well doing: many of their roots were also much lacerated, which will certainly much injure the health of the plants, although probably only in a few cases sufficiently to cause their deaths. Operations were at once commenced for the preservation of as many of the trees and shrubs as there was any prospect by saving, and the greater portion of them are now replanted and supported.

The effects of this typhoon will be apparent on the general appearance and health of the plants for many years, in many cases the plants will never recover their former vigour during their existence. The continual straining and breakage both to roots and branches which plants are subject to here in the numerous typhoons, will always prevent them being developed into such perfect specimens as are generally seen in gardens that are not visited by such terrific hurricanes.

The flowerpots containing plants in various parts of the gardens were broken in great numbers, but the plants themselves, excepting annuals, which can soon be replaced, although greatly disfigured, will in a little time recover their former appearances.

In the nurseries, the plants in pots have been considerably disturbed in the soil, and consequently slightly injured, but from this they will soon recover.


In the streets and roads, a large number of fine and aged trees have been blown down or so much damaged as to necessitate their removal at once, which has been done. The localities in which trees have suffered most severely are in the part of Queen's Road near the Military Store Department, where the trees were very large; in Queen's.Road at Spring Gardens, where about half a dozen fine trees were lost; in the Cricket Ground; one fine tree near the entrance to the City Hall; in Caine-Road and Bonham Road; in Garden Road ; and in the vicinity of the Government Offices. A very large number of the younger trees have also been much loosened and blown down, which has injured the roots more or less, thus checking their growth for some time.

I have observed that in nearly all cases where trees were blown down in the typhoon of September, 1871, and those trees were again set upright and have continued to grow up to the late typhoon, they have again fallen, and in several cases are this time entirely destroyed, thus proving as a general rule that when once a tree suffers so severely as to cause its prostration, that little reliance can be placed on that tree ever afterwards continuing or becoming a round and healthy one.

Bowrington Compound.—Most of the largest trees here were blown down and a few of them broken off above or at the roots. All that showed any signs of life or prospect of recovery have been again set upright and supported, which will perhaps preserve them for a few years, until pine trees, which I purpose planting there next year, grow to some size. The greater portion of the compound exhibits signs of having been flooded with salt water, or perhaps a mixture of fresh and salt water, and if this is so, we may expect the trees to be still further injured, or their recovery retarded by the salt which must have been deposited in the soil.

I have the honour to be,


Your most obedient Servant,

CHARLES FORD, Superintendent Government Gardens

Harbor Master to Colonial Secretary.

[No. 198.]           HARBOR DEPARTMENT,

'HONGKONG, 14th 'October, 1874.

SIR,—For the information of His Excellency the Governor, I have the honor to transmit a Report of the Typhoon and of the principal casualties that occurred in this Harbor on the morning of the 23rd ultimo.

The morning, of the 22nd commenced fine, with the Barometer at 29.85—the average range of the previous four days.

As the day advanced the atmosphere became unsettled, and, notwithstanding that the wind was North West it was accompanied by an oppressive heat, the Thermometer being 85° Farhenheit.

The Barometer began to fall at noon and steadily went down, until at 4 P.M. it was 29.74.

The wind, which at this time was about North North West, began to blow in fitful gusts across the Harbor, and it became evident that a Typhoon was approaching.

The Steam-launch was sent round to warn the Junks that they must at once seek shelter in Kowloon Bay, on the North side of the Harbor. With the exception of five, they all left their anchorage; these subsequently became wrecks at West Point.

The Barometer continued to fall slowly until 10.30 P.M: when it stood at 29.40, the wind having veered to North. Between 10.30 P.M. and 2 A.M., the Barometer fell upwards of half an inch and stood at 28.88—its lowest range—for about an hour.

At 2 A.M., the wind suddenly shifted to North East and then to East North East and blew with terrible violence. The strength of the wind brought an immense volume of water into the Harbor, not a tidal wave, but a rapid rise which continued for about an hour, flooding the Praya and ground floors of houses to a height of four and five feet for some distance in shore.

Although, according to ordinary calculation it should have been low water at two o'clock; by three, the water had risen to from five to six feet above its high water level, or a rise of about ten feet had taken place.

As the storm subsided, the wind gradually veered to South East and by seven A.M. it was fine.

Under such circumstances it is not surprising that the loss of Shipping and Junks should have been so much greater than it has been during any previous Typhoon. But few vessels held on to their anchors without dragging, and many that would otherwise have remained stationary were fouled by other ships and dragged also—in some instances to go down together.

The Master of the British Barque Falcon tells me that his Ship dragged on to what he supposes was the British Barque Malvern; that the collision stove the Falcon's stern in, but that the Malvern's bows suffered so badly that she went down head foremost with all hands on board just after the Falcon had drifted clear of her.

Another instance is recorded of the German Barque Maury fouling the German Barque Aldebaran causing her to sink; the crew of the latter vessel got on board the Maury, but she was so damaged, that, after being fouled by two Steamers, she also sunk but later in the day; the crew escaping by means of their boats after the storm had subsided. One vessel, however, the British Barque Charlotte Andrews held to her anchors, although she had been fouled by other craft, and saw nine vessels drift past her.

It is painful to report that two Spanish Steamers are lying sunk alongside the sea wall at the centre of the City. A strict regard to the readings of the Barometer and the general appearance of the weather should have warned the Captains of those vessels to seek shelter the evening before the Typhoon set in.

The German Barque Everhard was thrown over a reef of rocks on to a sandy beach on the North East point of Lantao; and a Siamese Brig drifted; ultimately becoming a .total wreck on the Island of Cheong Chow Ching.

The cases above described are inserted with a view to showing the manner in which the storm acted on some of the vessels.

I am of opinion that the casualties to the British and foreign shipping would not have been so great had more of the vessels been provided with heavier anchors; and had cable been veered at an earlier stage of the storm than was apparently done. But the sudden shiftings of the wind and the simultaneous rise of tide were doubtless the principal causes of the deplorable losses afloat.

Junks and smaller boats are so ill provided-with ground tackle that the rise of the water was of itself enough to cause their anchors to start from their holding ground.

No place was safe for this kind of craft. Stone Cutters' Island and Kowloon Bays, usually such safe harbors of refuge during a Typhoon, seem to have availed them noticing, the beaches of these places being literally strewed with wreck.

The loss of life is most distressing. Of British and foreign shipping alone, there is an estimated loss of 200 persons composed of all classes and nationalities.

I append a Report of the losses sustained by Chinese Junks as far as they could be ascertained, but this does not by any means show the terrible havoc which the Typhoon has made with this description of vessel. I have only been enabled to count vessels stranded; and those sunk, having their masts above water. Hundreds of smallers Junks and boats must have been driven out to sea, or, gone down in the Harbor of which nothing can ever be known.

From the log books of ships that have experienced this Typhoon at sea and where the Masters have registered the readings of their Barometers, I have been able to ascertain that the Typhoon blew with great violence in the neighbourhood of the Pratas Shoal, the British ship Onward, the American ship Highlander, and German barque Amanda having been in it between the hours of 4 and 6 P.M., of the 22nd. The storm travelled thence in a North-Westerly direction, the Spanish steamer Formosa in Latitude 20° 50' North and Longitude 115° 20' East, being on its Western limit. The centre passed but just South of Hongkong at about 2 A.M., of the 23rd, its full burst being apparently expended at Macao, where it raged at about 4 A.M., the Barometer at that place then registering 27.95, or nearly one inch lower than it was at Hongkong. 

The Onward did not suffer much in this Typhoon, but on the 29th when about 60 miles East of the South end of Formosa she encountered another storm necessitating the cutting away of the main mast and her return to this port to repair damages.

The recent Typhoon is without doubt the severest that has ever visited this Colony, whether we judge by the losses afloat or on shore. The loss of life in the Junk return is but an approximation of what has occurred; that of the British and foreign shipping is, I think, tolerably accurate as the numbers of original crews and of persons saved could more readily be obtained; but, where passengers were on board such vessels, the returns may not be so reliable.

A Report of this nature is generally accompanied by some suggestion to meet the exigencies of similar casualties should they visit us.

To the Captains of ships visiting this Port, who are as capable of judging of the weather as I am, I can only offer the suggestion that the Barometer is an unfailing indicator of what is approaching, or what is passing our neighbourhood. With good ground tackle; a clear hawse; and plenty of cable, veered before the storm is at its height; almost any British or foreign built vessel should be able to ride out a Typhoon in this Harbor.

The Department warns Junks of the probability of dangerous weather, but with the indifferent provision Chinese make for such emergencies, it is no wonder there is always so much destruction and loss of life amongst them.


I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,

Harbor Master, &c.


MEMO of CASUALTIES to JUNKS, during the Typhoon of the 23rd September, 1874.

Place of Casualty.


Driven on Shore.

Probable No.
of Lives Lost
from Junks.



Total Loss.







Shau-ki Wan,





100 small Boats broken up on the beach ; 20 Junks were on shore, but have since been got afloat.






A number of Boats supposed to have been blown out to sea & nothing heard of them.

Stone Cutters' Island,





1 Steam Launch, 3 European Lighters, and a Water Boat wrecked.







 British Kowloon, 


319 Junks&boats

50 Junks&boats


90 Junks and Boats missing.








MEMO of CASUALTIES to the SHIPPING in HONGKONG HARBOR on the Morning of the 23rd September, 1874, between the hours of
12.30 and 4 a.m.

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