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UPDATE 1-Hong Kong lowers alert as Typhoon Roke weakens

(adds Hong Kong lowering alert, Guangdong typhoon alert and capsized boat)

HONG KONG, July 23 (Reuters) - Hong Kong lowered a typhoon alert on Sunday evening as Typhoon Roke weakened, with the local airport and transport authorities rushing to restore normal operations in the Asian financial hub.

The Hong Kong Observatory on Sunday morning raised its typhoon alert to 8 - close to the top rating of 10 - as Roke was expected to make landfall over the eastern part of the city.

A reading of 8 means businesses, government offices and schools stay closed, including banks, port operations and the Hong Kong stock exchange. The alert was lowered to 1 by evening.

At 6 pm local time, Roke was estimated to be 180 kilometres west-northwest of Hong Kong and was forecast to move west or west-northwest at about 20 kilometres per hour across inland Guangdong and continue to weaken, the observatory said.

Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, issued a level 3 alert, the China Meteorological Administration said on Saturday night. On Sunday, a cargo ship with 12 people aboard capsized in waters off the coast of Guangdong, Chinese state media said. All 12 were safely rescued.

In Hong Kong, a spokesman for the international airport, one of the busiest in the world, said about half a dozen flights to and from the city were cancelled and more than 300 flights were delayed due to the typhoon.

Local trains were operating normally, but some bus and ferry services were cancelled earlier in the day, as per announcements on government websites. The annual book fair was temporarily closed due to the typhoon. (Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; additional reporting by Hallie Gu and Elias Glenn in Beijing; Editing by Michael Perry and Mark Potter)