The most powerful typhoon to hit the southern Chinese region in more than half a century left at least 16 dead as a sudden deluge swamped the gambling hub of Macau, submerging streets and stranding residents.
Macau, which is surrounded by water, is vulnerable to high tides and has few options for draining storm runoff. The territory took almost a direct hit from the storm as it churned toward mainland China.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency said eight more people were killed in Guangdong and one person remained missing. Typhoon Hato roared into the area Wednesday with winds of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour. It weakened into a tropical storm Thursday as it moved farther west inland.
Xinhua said almost 27,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters, while extensive damage to farmland due to the heavy rain and high tides was also reported. Almost 2 million households lost power temporarily, while fishing boats were called back to port and train services and flights suspended, Xinhua said.
“Compared to other typhoons, Hato moved fast, quickly grew more powerful and caused massive amounts of rainfall,” Wu Zhifang, chief weather forecaster at the Guangdong meteorological bureau, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
By Thursday, a weaker Hato was moving into China’s Guangxi region.
Flooding and injuries were also reported in Hong Kong, which lies across the water 64 kilometers (40 miles) from Macau, but there were no reports of deaths. Hato’s fierce gales blew out windows on skyscrapers in the Asian financial capital, raining shattered glass onto the eerily quiet streets below. Hong Kong’s weather authorities had raised the hurricane signal to the highest level for the first time in five years. (AP)