Residents living along China’s southeastern coast are grappling with immense damage caused this week by one of the region’s worst tropical storms in decades.
Typhoon Hato tore through Hong Kong and Macau as well as neighboring areas on Wednesday and Thursday, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 150 others.
Extreme flooding and heavy winds toppled buildings, uprooted trees and pulled down power lines, causing widespread power outages and hundreds of flight cancellations. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated to emergency shelters.
“It’s a calamity, the losses are high and a lot of buildings need repair,” said Macau politician José Pereira Coutinho. “People were just swimming, they cried for help. There were no boats. The water came so suddenly.”
Macau’s chief executive, Fernando Chui, conceded Wednesday that his government had not been adequately prepared to address the disaster.
“We have faced an extremely difficult test together. Hato is the strongest typhoon in 53 years and has brought tremendous damage to Macau,” Chui told members of the press.
“In facing this disaster, we admit we have not done enough, there is space for improvement. Here I represent the Macau government in expressing our apologies to the residents,” he said.
Hato weakened into a less-severe tropical storm as it moved inland, but it has caused as much as HK$8 billion (more than $1 billion) worth of economic damage, according to market analysts.
Hong Kong and Macau residents were photographed wading, paddling and swimming through flooded areas to clean up debris and remove remnants of destroyed buildings and overturned vehicles.
See images from the typhoon and its aftermath below.