Typhoon Hato
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Macau after the city was hit by Typhoon Hato. Photo: Edward Wong

Macau observatory chief resigns as government slammed for response to deadly typhoon

City’s chief executive, Fernando Chui Sai-on, apologises to residents and offers condolences to victims’ families

Typhoon Hato

Macau residents have slammed the government for its poor response to deadly Typhoon Hato, the strongest recorded in the city in 53 years, while they struggle to cope with the damage the storm has inflicted.

Eight people died and more than 200 were injured when the typhoon struck the former Portuguese enclave, which saw its ­electricity supply cut, drinking water facilities damaged, ­windows of residential buildings shattered and other public infrastructure wrecked.

Hato left a trail of destruction on the streets, filled with massive piles of rubbish, dead fish, furniture, torn down billboards and scaffolding, alongside several ­uprooted trees and windows.

Luxurious seaside residential tower La Cite in Areia Preta also resembled a war-torn building, after its windows were broken during the storm.

“The residents of Macau are frustrated and powerless in the face of such a tragedy,” IT engineer Gilberto Camacho, 39, said.

In Hato’s aftermath, Hongkongers pick up the pieces, one rubbish bag at a time

“Now the main problem we are facing is a lack of both running water and drinking water. I don’t have water at home and there is no bottled water in the supermarket,” he said.

The Post saw several dozens of people queuing up to get access to firefighters’ water hydrants in ­different parts of the city.

Last night, Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on announced the resignation of Fong Soi-kun, director of the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau, at a press conference.

A vehicle damaged by Typhoon Hato in Macau. Photo: Reuters

He also expressed his condolences to the families of those killed in the storm. Out of the eight dead, seven died in floods while one was killed in a road accident.

As of yesterday afternoon, the government said, the electricity supply was mostly stable, ­although about 30,000 families were still affected by the cut. The Post found several shops in the worst-hit areas of the Macau peninsula still did not have electricity.

Chui said utility firm Companhia de Electricidade de Macau was considering increasing the local production of electricity. Currently, about 80 per cent is from the mainland.

The authorities said they did not have the number of those still missing, but about 50 people had slept in a government shelter between Wednesday and yesterday.

In Hato’s aftermath, Hongkongers pick up the pieces, one rubbish bag at a time

It also announced 1.3 billion patacas would be set aside for those affected by the typhoon, with families of victims to get up to 300,000 patacas each.

At the press conference, Chui said the government would improve the alert and news system.

In Patane, the area where two people died in a car park, the Post saw relatives performing a passage ritual, while neighbours complained about the lack of warning from the government.

Firefighters carry out an investigation at a building in Macau at Typhoon Hato brought. Photo: Edward Wong

“We lost two neighbours. They used to come to my shop ... We are very upset with the government,” said Chrystal Chan, 40, a grocery shop owner. “They should have warned us before this happened, so we could have been prepared.”

Chan said the two dead were trying to fix the building’s car park water gate when they were caught by torrential water.

“They wanted to make sure everything was OK and they were caught by surprise,” she said.

The situation yesterday showed little improvement. “Now we have no water, no electricity, no internet ... it’s like this for over 24 hours,” she said. “The government just said ‘sorry’ and [gave] no explanation.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: anger in macau after hato brings tragedy