Hong Kong braces for super Typhoon Haima, shuts all but essential services
People stand beside a big wave on a waterfront as Typhoon Haima approaches in Hong Kong Reuters

Hong Kong went into lockdown on Friday as the city braces for Typhoon Haima that has already killed at least 12 people in the Philippines.

The Hong Kong Observatory raised its typhoon 8 signal which is the third highest warning level for strong winds and rain. Authorities expect Haima to come closest to the city around noon, before it moves on to China.

"According to the present forecast track, Haima will be closest to Hong Kong around noon, skirting about 100 km (62 miles) to the east of the territory," the observatory posted on its official website.

"This means that winds with mean speeds of 63 kmh (40 mph) or more are expected from the northwest quarter," it added.

It also said: "Seas are rough and there are swells. Members of the public should stay on high alert, stay away from the shoreline."

Schools, offices and businesses, including banks, port operations and the Hong Kong stock exchange, were all closed. Both flights and train services were cancelled and roads were clear of cars.

Flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it expected "significant disruptions" to its flights between 11.00 am and 10.00 pm on Friday.

According to reports, underground metro train services were also reduced and all buses were cancelled.

All the ferry services were cancelled as waters grew increasingly choppy. Reports say despite the warning, some residents were seen heading towards the harbor to take pictures of waves.

Officials said the city is expected to remain shut for most of Friday until the storm passes. Massive queues were seen in supermarkets on Thursday night as the residents planned to stock up ahead of the storm. Some shops boarded up windows to protect those from wind-borne debris.

Haima, which means "seahorse" in Chinese, was categorized as a super typhoon as it hit the Philippines late Wednesday night and wreaked havoc in the country.

Tens of thousands were evacuated and thousands of homes were destroyed in the Philippines. At least 12 people were killed due to the super typhoon.

Experts feared Haima could prove as destructive as the catastrophic super typhoon Haiyan that had claimed more than 7,350 lives in 2013.