Typhoon Hato, the strongest to hit southern China in 53 years, left a trail of death and destruction in the region with Macau and Hong Kong bearing the brunt of the storm that has claimed at least 12 lives and injured over 150 others. The former Portuguese enclave of Macau was still without electricity as the typhoon claimed the lives of at least eight people.
The typhoon made landfall on Wednesday, bringing winds of up to 160 kilometre per hour to the mouth of the Pearl river and heavy rain to nearby regions, the local meteorological bureau said. At least 150 people were injured, and residents had been struggling with a massive power failure for nearly 24 hours in Macau, South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.
When the typhoon swept past Macau, a wall brought down by strong winds killed a man. Another person died after falling from the 11th floor of a building, and a third after being hit by a truck, according to Macau health authorities.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on said it was the strongest storm recorded in Macau in 53 years, adding that it had had a severe impact across the city.
He expressed his condolences to the families of those who had died, and conveyed sympathy for everyone affected by the typhoon. “The government is dedicating continued effort regarding coordinating the restoration of water and electricity supplies in order to ensure the Macau public can resume their normal lives as quickly as possible,” Chui was quoted as saying by the report.
In Hong Kong, more than 120 were injured as the financial hub was lashed with hurricane winds and heavy rain.
In Guangdong, four people were killed and one remained unaccounted for.
The government has evacuated 26,817 people to temporary shelters. About 664 hectares of farmland has been damaged.
Power transmission facilities suffered heavy loss, disrupting electricity supply to 1.91 million households. About half of the households had power back by late yesterday.
In Zhuhai, a ship which lost control amid gales and high tides hit a pier of a major bridge, causing the bridge surface to tilt. The bridge, part of a coastal highway, was cordoned off.
Alerts for landslides, flooding and other geological disasters have been issued. “Compared to other typhoons, Hato moved fast, quickly grew more powerful and caused massive amounts of rainfall,” said Wu Zhifang, chief weather forecaster at Guangdong meteorological 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 have been transferred to safer places.
In one of the hardest-hit areas, 19 villages near the town of Guanghai, Taishan city, were flooded and power was cut off. However, no casualties have been reported as the evacuation started early.
In Zhuhai, trees and billboards have been blown down. At a wharf, boats were pushed onto shore while vehicles on the roads were floated. But floodwater has begun to recede.
Huang Xin, an employee of a fishing gear shop at the wharf, said the shop’s gate and windows were broken by huge tides. Boats, though being moored, were damaged.
Across the province, classes and work were suspended in many cities. Several expressways were closed and train services halted.
At least six ships on the mouth of the Pearl river have reported emergencies. Maritime rescue workers saved 118 crew, according to the Ministry of Transportation. Hato is forecast to move northwest and enter Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region by dawn today. As the typhoon moves further inland, its strength is expected to drop.
In Guangxi, more than 15,000 workers at the local power grid were put on standby while precautions have been taken to minimise the damage caused by potential flooding and landslides. More than 11,860 fishing boats have been moored.