August 26, 2017 / 11:12 PM / a year ago

Battered Hong Kong and Macau brace for Pakhar, more flooding

HONG KONG, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and Macau braced for severe tropical storm Pakhar on Sunday, just four days after one of the strongest typhoons on record, Hato, caused serious flooding and damage in the territories.

Both cities issued their third-highest weather warnings, storm signal No. 8, early in the morning as winds intensified and heavy rain lashed down, prompting alerts of serious flooding in low-lying areas.

Pakhar comes as the territories are still reeling from Hato. While Hong Kong escaped major damage, Hato devastated the world’s largest gambling hub Macau, killing at least 10 people and exposing critical infrastructure flaws after it left the city without water and power for days.

“Pakhar will be closest to Hong Kong in the next few hours, skirting within 150 kilometres southwest of the territory and landing to the west of the Pearl River Estuary around noon,” said the Hong Kong Observatory, the territory’s weather forecasting agency.

Unless Pakhar intensifies further, there is little chance a higher signal will be issued, although seas will be very rough with swells, it added.

The maximum sustained winds recorded at Waglan Island, Tate’s Cairn and Cheung Chau Beach were 113, 101 and 97 kmh (70, 62, 60 mph) respectively, with maximum gusts 135, 154 and 130 kmh (84, 96, 81 mph)

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, said the storm would cause delays and cancellations to flights arriving and departing on Sunday and Monday.

Other transport services including ferries to the gaming hub of Macau and outlying islands in Hong Kong were suspended.

In Macau, the storm will pose a major setback to clean-up efforts that saw Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops deployed to help remove mountains of stinking debris strewn across some heavily flooded districts battered by Hato.

Power has been restored in the territory but some areas still lack water supply as of Saturday evening, the Macau Government Information Bureau said on its official website.

Four Hong Kong journalists were denied entry to Macau on Saturday to cover the storms and relief effort on grounds they “posed a risk to the stability of internal security,” according to reports from the media companies they represented.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association expressed “deep regret” over the incident and urged Macau to respect press freedom. Police chief Ma Io-kun told a press conference on Saturday he was not aware of the case, but said the government respects press freedom “very much.”

Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree and Venus Wu; Editing by Andrew Hay

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