Macau issues T3 signal after Pakhar lands closer than expected to city still reeling from deadly Typhoon Hato
Wind speeds exceeding 70km per hour recorded
A No 3 warning signal has been issued for Macau as severe tropical storm after Pakhar arrived closer than expected to the casino city, still reeling from deadly Typhoon Hato.
Macau’s Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau published a bulletin saying it had replaced its T8 signal, in effect from Sunday morning, with a lower No 3 signal at 1pm.
The bureau also said there was a higher chance it would issue a red storm surge warning as wind speeds exceeding 70km per hour had been recorded.
Pakhar landed at Taishan – a city some 77km west of Macau – at around 9am, the bureau said.
At 8am, the tropical cyclone was centred around 40km southwest of Macau.
A yellow storm surge warning took effect at 9am, two hours earlier than expected.
There are three levels of storm surge warning in Macau: yellow, red and black.
A yellow warning is issued when the water level is expected to be below 0.5 metre above road level. A red warning is issued between 0.5 to 1 metre, and a black warning takes effect for a water level exceeding 1 metre.
The Civil Defence Centre of Macau had received 55 incident reports by 8.30 am Sunday, including one of a power failure and six relating to fallen trees and electrical cables.
The storm was about 90km southeast of Macau, moving northwest at a speed of 30km per hour to the Pearl River Estuary, when the T8 alert was issued.
Warning of stronger local winds, the bureau urged the public to take precautionary measures.
“Children should remain indoors. Doors and windows should be safely bolted.
“Bridges will close to all traffic at any moment, pending prior notice,” it added.
More than 200 people had sought refuge in 23 temporary shelters across the city, according to the government.
At least 13 trees were reported to have fallen and there was one case of flooding, it added.
Cotai Frontier Post was shut and the Lotus Bridge connecting the post to Zhuhai’s Hengqin Island was also closed to traffic.
TurboJet suspended all its ferry services between Macau, Hong Kong and Shekou on the mainland.
Cotai Water Jet was to provide limited ferry services between Hong Kong and Macau, while the 10 daily services between Taipa and Hong Kong airport would still run.
Many have criticised the Macau government for its lack of preparation and ability to cope with natural disasters.
Pakhar prompted the Hong Kong Observatory to issue the No 8 storm signal with an amber rainstorm at 5.10am on Sunday.
Earlier, the government announced it would cancel a series of upcoming celebrations and events – including the Macao International Fireworks Display Contest in September – in the wake of the devastating typhoon to focus on disaster relief.
As of Saturday, the power supply of at least 30 buildings in Macau was yet to be resumed, while some high-rise buildings also faced water shortages.
Twenty water trucks were sent by the government of Guangdong province on Saturday to the streets of Macau to help distribute water. The local government has also adopted several remedial measures, such as importing 360,000 bottles of water and opening shower rooms at four public pools for citizens.
Up to 1,000 soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army, which have been deployed for the first time since the city’s handover in 1999, continued to help with the relief effort on Saturday.
Some 2,600 tonnes of rubbish – double of the daily average of 1,100 tonnes – had been collected on Friday and another 1,620 tonnes had been gathered as of noon on Saturday, according to Lei Wai Nong, the vice-president of the management committee under the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau of Macau.
“We will speed up the work and make good use of time as the new typhoon is approaching,” he said.
The city’s firefighters on Saturday were still carrying out recovery work at flooded underground car parks, but had not found more bodies. Four of the 10 victims were killed by floods in underground car parks.
The property management company of a building in Areia Preta, which had many of its windows smashed by Typhoon Hato, also helped residents to install boards to protect their homes for the time being.
Macau resident Luisa Lei Sio Fong said she had reserved some drinking water at home and had been monitoring the local observatory closely to keep track of the latest storm updates.
“I’m not particularly concerned about my area because the situation here is better, but I’m very worried about residents living in old buildings,” Lei said. “The old neighbourhoods were seriously flooded and we hope all the garbage can be cleaned before more rain comes.”
“We are quite worried about Pakhar,” Macau resident Ana Chio said. “We are afraid there will be floods, blackouts and water shortage again. It’s really one trouble after another.”
Chio said she had been staying at home, reserving water and charged up the batteries of her electronic gadgets.
Meanwhile, the Macau authorities were also under fire for barring four Hong Kong journalists – including Post photographer Felix Wong – who hoped to cover the clean-up operations from entering the city, on the grounds that they “posed a risk to the stability of internal security” to the city.
Tammy Tam, editor-in-chief of the Post, expressed deep concern that the photographer was detained by the Macau authorities. “We strongly object to the detention of our journalists carrying out their duty to inform the public. They pose no security threat to anyone or anything.
“We will be pursuing this matter with the relevant authorities.”
In a joint statement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association also expressed deep regret and urged Macau to respect press freedom.
The Macau Journalists Association strongly condemned the ban of Hong Kong reporters and said it was a huge blow to press freedom.
Only a flow of accurate information would ease public fear amid disasters, the association said, adding the government’s relief effort should come under the media’s scrutiny.
Ma Io Kun, the commissioner of the Public Security Police in Macau, said the ban was issued in accordance with the law and had nothing to do with the visitors’ occupations.
Separately, more than 1,000 boxes of supplies such as bottled water, dried food, face masks, sanitiser and garbage bags had been collected and sent to Macau by a campaign launched by Hongkongers.
Additional reporting by Shirley Zhao and Tony Cheung