Death and destruction as Typhoon Hato hits

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At least 10 people have been killed and one remains missing as the strongest typhoon of the year hit south China yesterday.
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Xinhua

A tree crushes several cars in Zhuhai, a city in south China’s Guangdong Province, yesterday.

At least 10 people have been killed and one remains missing as the strongest typhoon of the year hit south China yesterday.

Typhoon Hato made landfall in the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province at noon, bringing winds of up to 160 kilometers per hour to the mouth of the Pearl River and heavy rain to nearby regions, the local weather bureau said.

Four people died in the province while one remains unaccounted for. The government has evacuated 26,817 people to temporary shelters. About 664 hectares of farmland has been damaged.

Power transmission facilities were badly damaged, disrupting electricity supplies to 1.91 million households though about half had power back by last night.

Alerts for landslides, flooding and other geological disasters have been issued.

“Compared with other typhoons, Hato moved fast, quickly grew more powerful and caused massive amounts of rainfall,” said Wu Zhifang, chief forecaster at the Guangdong weather bureau.

Meteorologists had earlier warned of unusually high flooding as the typhoon came during high tides.

Hundreds of thousands of residents in low-lying areas, workers on coastal fish farms, and tourists had already been evacuated to safer ground.

In one of the hardest-hit areas, 19 villages near the town of Guanghai in the city of Taishan were flooded, local resident Xie Yongbin said. However, no casualties were reported as the evacuation had started early.

In Zhuhai, trees and billboards were blown down, but the floodwater had already begun to recede by last night.

Classes and work were suspended in many cities, several expressways were closed and train services halted.

At least six ships at the mouth of the Pearl River reported emergencies. Maritime rescue workers saved 118 crew members, according to the transport ministry. 

Hato earlier brought chaos and destruction to Macau, after sweeping through neighboring Hong Kong. 

Five people were confirmed dead and 153 others injured in Macau while an elderly man died in Hong Kong. 

Severe flooding left cars submerged and people were seen swimming through muddy water in Macau streets after being swept off their feet by the wind.

The city’s mega-casinos were running on backup generators, without air-conditioning or proper lighting, according to one source.

A Sands employee, the company which owns the Venetian and the Parisian, said power had been out across the whole of Macau.

“Because many guests come in the summer, a lot of them have been stuck in the major resorts and casinos,” the employee said. “All transport — air, ground, sea — has halted, so customers who have checked out cannot leave yet.”

Brian Chan, 31, said authorities had failed to give enough notice of the impending storm and were not properly prepared, describing the city as being “totally lost” in the typhoon.

Water supplies were also limited, officials said, and 50 flights from its international airport were canceled.

Harald Bruning, editor of the Macau Post Daily, said it was the worst typhoon he had experienced in 30 years.

“The city looks like after an attack,” he said.  

Xinhua

Local residents battle strong wind and rain in Hong Kong yesterday after Typhoon Hato, the strongest typhoon this year, hit south China.

Hurricane-force winds and heavy rain had earlier hit Hong Kong, leaving an 83-year-old man dead after he fell into the sea, police said. More than 80 people had been injured.

The typhoon shut down the stock market and forced the cancelation of hundreds of flights in what was described as the worst storm the city had seen for five years.

Meteorologists raised Hong Kong’s most severe Typhoon 10 warning as the storm hit, only the third time that had been done in the past 20 years.

Hato sent huge waves crashing into Hong Kong’s shoreline with flooding knee deep in some areas.

Rubbish washed up on beaches and in coastal residential areas, including white globs of palm oil which have been coming ashore since a massive spillage at sea earlier this month.

Gusts of wind of up to 207 kilometers per hour brought flying debris, tearing down trees and scaffolding and smashing skyscraper windows. Fallen trees cut off roads to parts of the city.

More than 450 flights were canceled, with flag carrier Cathay Pacific axing most of its departures before 5pm.

The airline said it had begun to reschedule flights with some taking off last night. 

“I’ve never seen one like this,” Garrett Quigley, a long-time resident of Lantau island to the west of the city, said of the storm.

“Cars are half submerged and roads are impassable with flooding and huge trees down. It’s crazy.”

Many skyscrapers in Hong Kong were empty and dark as office workers stayed home.

In residential districts on densely populated Hong Kong island, waves smashed against the sides of oceanfront buildings and surged over a promenade, sweeping away walls and benches and swamping vehicles parked nearby.

Some people used canoes to navigate flooded streets.

As the storm moved away, the Hong Kong observatory reduced its warning signal to a Typhoon 1, the lowest level, although it said there would still be strong offshore winds and rain.

Hato is forecast to enter the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region by dawn today. More than 15,000 power grid workers are on standby for potential damage. As it moves inland its strength is expected to drop.

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