At Least 16 People Dead as Typhoon Hato Floods Macau, Southern China

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 said Thursday that eight people were killed in the former Portuguese colony, including two men found overnight in a submerged parking garage. Another 153 were injured amid extensive flooding, power outages, and the smashing of doors and windows by high winds and driving rain.

“It’s a calamity, the losses are high and a lot of buildings need repair,” said Macau lawmaker Jose Pereira Coutinho, adding that he heard from many people who still had no water or electricity a day after Typhoon Hato tore across the 30-square kilometer (19-square mile) territory.

Coutinho said the flooding was at its worst in the older parts of the city’s downtown, where narrow lanes date back from Macau’s time as a Portuguese colony for more than four centuries.

“People were just swimming, they cried for help. There were no boats. The water came so suddenly,” said Coutinho, who slammed the city government for having “reacted so slowly and so badly.”

The chief executive of Macau’s local government, Chui Sai On, ordered measures to “further the relief efforts,” the Government Information Bureau said in a statement Thursday.

Residents waded in waist-high murky water and rows of city buses sat half-submerged on city streets, according to photos circulating among residents. Fallen trees blocked roads, causing traffic snarls, and residents lined up with buckets to collect water from public standpipes, television video showed.

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.

Its reliance on the mainland for electricity compounded problems. Power cuts in neighboring Guangdong province, which supplies nearly 90 percent of Macau’s electricity, cascaded into outages across the city, forcing casino operators, a hospital, and the city’s mobile phone company, CTM, to switch to backup generators.

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SOURCE: USA Today; The Associated Press, Kelvin Chan and Christopher Bodeen