HONG KONG (Reuters) – At least eight people were killed and many are still missing after one of the strongest typhoons on record barreled into the southern Chinese territory of Macau, wiping out power and water in large pockets of the world’s biggest gambling hub.
Macau’s government broadcaster TDM said Typhoon Hato, a maximum category 10 storm, was the strongest since 1968.
“The city looks like it was just in a war,” one civil servant, who declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said on Thursday.
Hato on Wednesday battered the financial hub of Hong Kong, uprooting trees, flooding streets, forcing hundreds of airline flights to be canceled and halting financial trading. There were reports of 34 people injured in Hong Kong, which had not been hit by a category 10 typhoon for five years.
Hato’s path of destruction continued on to the former Portuguese colony of Macau, across the Pearl River estuary, and China’s Guangdong Province.
Winds of more than 200 kmh (124 mph) smashed into apartments across Macau, breaking large doors and sending sheets of glass flying through the air.
Macau’s water system pumps were severely damaged and power was cut to over half of Macau, home to around 600,000 people.
While most of the large casinos were operating as normal, many were relying on back-up generators for power.
Severe flooding overwhelmed the teeming enclave which is in the process of building new infrastructure such as a light rail to cope with a surge in visitors.
In Guangdong province numerous flights and trains were canceled, with Shenzhen’s International Airport particularly badly hit. Thousands of residents along the Chinese coast were evacuated and fishing vessels were called back to port.
Maximum winds near Hato’s center were recorded at a destructive 155 kph (95 mph) as it continued to move west across Guangdong in the general direction of Hainan island.
Hato had been downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday and was about 680 km (422 miles) west of Hong Kong and expected to weaken further as it moves inland over China.
Reporting By Farah Master and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Michael Perry