News Flash – 28 August 2017

National News

 

 

267 lives snuffed out in 17 building crashes in 20 years

 

 

MUMBAI: Building crashes in the Maximum City have claimed 267 lives in the last two decades. This data comes to light in the backdrop two building crashes in last two months. According to data obtained from BMC, 17 buildings have crashed since 1996 in which 267 persons have lost their lives. The maximum number of deaths—61—was in the September 2013 Babu Genu Market building crash near Dockyard Road station, which had been declared ‘Class C2 (B)’ dilapidated and in urgent need of repairs. RTI activist Anil Galgali said the data indicates building crashes have killed an average 13 people every year, which is worrying. “There is an urgent need for one monitoring agency to keep tabs on illegal as well as dilapidated buildings,” he said. Opposition leader in the BMC Ravi Raja pointed out that redevelopment policies are not very clear, owing to which people are hesitant to move out of shaky buildings. “Often they do not know where to go hence, continue living there. Besides in many cases, it is seen that the builder or the contractor and the civic officials are hand in glove owing to which despite their illegal acts, action is not taken against them,” he claimed. While one labourer died in Saturday’s Chandivli building collapse, 17 people died in the Siddhi Sai building crash in Ghatkopar on July 25. Lalchand Ramchandani, a resident of Siddhi Sai building, said they have been offered accommodation in Bhandup, which is inconvenient. “I have to run my shop in Ghatkopar and also have to tend to my injured wife. If I move to Bhandup, how will I manage the two,” said Ramchandani, adding that he has not yet recovered his money and gold ornaments lost in the crash.

 

 

Triple whammy strikes Delhi: Dengue, H1N1, chikungunya

Five top hospitals told TOI they have recorded more than 40 swine flu deaths this year.

 

 

NEW DELHI: It’s dengue season, but the city is in the grip of swine flu and chikungunya as well. Where 2016 saw fewer than 200 cases of swine flu, the count is already nearing 2,000 this year. The viral disease has killed at least five people while a 12-year-old died of dengue in South Delhi‘s Humayunpur last week. Those are only the official figures – five top hospitals told TOI they have recorded more than 40 swine flu deaths this year. Dengue is also spreading faster than in 2016, with roughly 30% more infections in July this year. While chikungunya wracked the city during August December last year, cases this year have been reported all through, with a clear uptick July onwards. It’s unusual for three viral diseases to strike at the same time. “In 20 years of clinical experience, I have not seen this kind of spread of viral illnesses in Delhi. Dengue and swine flu are spreading with similar intensity. People have also tested positive for chikungunya,” said Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo hospital. Some patients have also been diagnosed with multiple infections, for example, dengue and typhoid. “Four members of my family have been down with fever for a week. One of them has tested positive for dengue,” said Kalpana Sharma, a resident of Greater Kailash-1, who is recovering from viral fever. “The fever takes a week or more to subside these days and the after-effects, like body ache and fatigue, last even longer.” The bad news is that the worst is yet to come as these viral diseases spread faster in September and October. “High levels of humidity in August, September and October aid virus growth and transmission,” said Dr. A C Dhariwal, director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Dengue and chikungunya are transmitted through the bite of Aedes aegypti mosquito; swine flu spreads from person to person when a patient coughs or sneezes.

 

Doctors at AIIMS, Safdarjung, Lok Nayak, Apollo, Sir Ganga Ram, Max Saket and BLK hospitals said they have been managing the patient load by utilising beds in non-active departments or creating special wards. But a spike in infections could soon lead to a shortage of beds. In 2015, the Delhi government ordered hospitals to postpone elective surgeries to accommodate dengue patients. Last year, special wards were opened in big hospitals to deal with the rush of dengue and chikungunya patients. Public health specialists said the looming crisis shows how governments have failed to prepare for viral illnesses spread by mosquitoes and diseases like swine flu. “The least they can do is raise awareness about preventing the spread of diseases. Dengue and chikungunya, for example, can be reduced significantly if collection of water in household utensils and overhead tanks is stopped. For swine flu, simple measures like maintaining hygiene and staying away from infected people can save so many lives,” said Dr. Rommel Tickko, senior consultant, internal medicine at Max Saket. The sharp increase in swine flu cases and deaths this year might be because the virus is of a different strain, said Dhariwal. NCDC and AIIMS in Delhi, and Pune’s National Institute of Virology have found the ‘Michigan strain’ of swine flu in circulation this year, as against the California strain in previous years. Dhariwal said accurate reporting of notifiable diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and swine flu is necessary to alert the local population to the precautions needed, and for the state authorities to prepare their action plans to tackle the rush of patients in hospitals.

 

 

Police on alert at Dera Sacha Sauda ashrams in Bengaluru, Mysuru

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s ashram (in pic) near Jalahalli Cross in north Bengaluru has been locked down after the occupants left for Haryana a week ago. Police said the vigil will continue for a few days.

 

 

BENGALURU: Police have been deployed outside the ashrams of Dera Sacha Sauda in Bengaluru and Mysuru after violence broke out in Haryana on Saturday following the conviction of its leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for rape. The ashram on Soladevanahalli road, off 8th milestone on Tumakuru highway near Jalahalli Cross in north Bengaluru has been deserted for a week after its occupants left for Haryana. Chetan Singh Rathore, DCP (north), said, “No untoward incident has been reported. Security will be continued for a few days”. Residents of the locality revealed that four or five people live in the ashram and left for Haryana a week ago. “We haven’t heard or seen people here for a week. Sometimes, people drop in for satsang; otherwise, the ashram has no links with the city,” a resident said. In Mysuru, police were on guard outside the ashram premises near Siddalingapura on Mysuru-Bengaluru highway. DCP (law and order) N Vishnuvardhana said that they had deployed police “to prevent any untoward incident”. The land on which the ashram stands is in a controversy after farmers objected to the wall being higher than permitted by building laws. Ram Rahim Singh visited Mysuru in 2008 and 2009 stayed at the ashram.

 

 

Emergency landing for Qatar flight as co-pilot falls ill mid-journey

 

 

HYDERABAD: An Indonesia-bound Qatar Airways passenger jet (QR 964 DOH-DPS) made an emergency landing at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport a little after midnight on Friday, after the co-pilot fell ill. According to airport sources, the co-pilot, Andre Dinu (40), complained of severe pain in his chest while the aircraft was at a cruising altitude. Officials said that the he collapsed on-board. The incident took place when the flight was passing through the Indian sub-continent during midnight. After seeking permission from the RGIA air traffic control, the 14-hour long Doha to Denpasar flight was diverted to Hyderabad where it made an emergency landing around 12.05 am. “After providing medical aid at the airport, the patient was shifted to Apollo Hospital in Jubilee Hills by 1.20 am,” said source at the Shamshabad airport.

 

The health of the co-pilot, a Romanian national, is under observation at the Apollo Hospital, said sources. “The pilot had lost conscious on-board. His condition was stabilised at the airport. After he was rushed to the hospital, we immediately shifted him to the intensive care unit wherein a few tests, including an MRI were conducted, to ascertain the reason behind the incident,” said spokesperson from the hospital, adding that the co-pilot was stable by Saturday evening and was being closely monitored by a team of doctors. The Qatar Airways flight had 240 people on board. Following the brief diversion, the flight resumed its onward journey to Denpasar, from the Shamshabad facility, at 3.03 am. It may be recalled that a couple of months ago, a flight carrying 244 passengers had made an emergency landing after a bird hit, at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA). In May this year, a Pune-bound Air India flight had to make an emergency landing at RGIA after it faced technical snag immediately after take-off.

 

 

400-tonne beam hangs mid-air, spells danger for life and property

 

KOLKATA: The New Garia-Airport Metro corridor deadlock has not only delayed the project by three months, it is also an imminent threat to passersby as a steel beam weighing more than 400 tonnes hangs mid-air beside the Baghajatin rail over bridge. Though the Metro Railway aims to extend services till Ruby Park by June next year, 11 traders of Comint Park Natun Bazar have held up the Rs 3,951-crore project. The delay is not allowing the contractor to launch the 28m viaduct to bridge piers 20 and 21. This is a crucial section from where the Metro corridor moves from EM Bypass towards New Garia to merge with North-South Metro at Kavi Subhash station. The contractor, Afcons, had threatened to quit the project. “Though we have managed to retain them assuring an early breakthrough, no progress has been made as our workers fear the squatters may attack them. No beam has been kept hanging for too long. We are concerned about the safety of people living in and around,” said a Rail Vikash Nigam Limited (RVNL) official, the project’s executing agency. The construction of the stretch gained significance after the Metro Railway decided to extend metro service. But the delay in construction would adversely affect the progress of the alignment within the steep deadline. “We have been running from pillar to post but the issue remains,” said a RVNL officer. The work involves huge machinery .Thus the space below the viaduct needs to be sanitized to minimize the risk, he added.

 

The construction at Baghajatin was suspended on June 5 and there is no sign of a breakthrough yet. Railway officials said they had written to the state government and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation repeatedly to persuade the traders blocking the site to shift. Local councilor (ward 109) Ananya Banerjee said, “I have requested RVNL to carry on with their work. Once they resume construction, we can press the squatters to vacate the vested land. Since the acquisition is not official, both the project work and vacating of land must go on simultaneously.” Banerjee also hinted that she would ensure that these traders get shops along E M Bypass that are being constructed for rehabilitation of evicted hawkers. However, the RVNL officials said that there is hardly any scope for simultaneous works -construction work and vacating of land -in this case. The space occupied by these squatters is the least possible space we require. We did not want any more space in the market. “We are on the vested land just like many other occupants. We have trade licences and electricity bills. Why were we issued these documents if we are illegal,” asked Tapas Sen, one of the 11 shop owners. He, however, denied the manhandling of Afcons personnel. “They are too mighty to be harmed by us. Stalling the project is not our intent as we just want rehabilitation. We have been running these shops for 13-14 years. We appeal that we be provided with an alternative space to set up our shops so that we can sustain our livelihood,” said Tuhin Ganguly, a sweet-shop owner.

 

 

Sundays record 20% of all Chennai road deaths

 

 

CHENNAI: Sunday is not just for leisure, food and siesta. It’s the day of the most deaths on roads, at least in Chennai. Blame it on empty roads, alcohol, speeding and driver fatigue, but the fact remains that at least 20% of all road accident deaths in Chennai have happened on a Sunday. Latest statistics compiled by the state transport department shows that out of nearly 1,000 accident deaths recorded in the city and its suburbs in the last 18 months, one in every five deaths was reported on Sunday. East Coast Road (ECR), Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and Inner Ring Roadare the biggest culprits, as they account for two times the number of road accidents recorded on other days of the week. And 60% of these fatal crashes were reported during the wee hours. According to a senior transport department official, “Drivers take advantage of empty roads. Drunk drivers were the reason behind most accidents”. Why is the first day of the week so deadly? A senior transport department official said: “Drivers take advantage of empty roads. Some long-distance drivers returning to the city after spending the weekend out, get fatigued. A large number of accidents involve drivers under the influence of alcohol”. Rogue roads are dotted with bars, pubs and eateries which are open till midnight. Youngsters, some of them under the influence of alcohol, tend to ride at high speeds along these stretches late night on Saturday, he said. “More often than not, they get involved in accidents and are taken to hospitals in the wee hours of Sunday,” said a senior official from Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP).

 

 

International News

 

 

Houston devastated by flooding from Harvey as residents gird for days of rain

 

HOUSTON: Catastrophic flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Harvey inundated Houston on Sunday, forcing residents of the fourth most populous US city to flee their homes in boats or hunker down in anticipation of several more days of “unprecedented” rainfall. Harvey came ashore late on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years and has killed at least two people. The death toll is expected to rise as the storm triggers additional tidal surges and tornadoes, with parts of the region expected to see a year’s worth of rainfall in the span of a week. The storm caused chest-deep flooding on some streets in Houston as rivers and channels overflowed their banks. More than 30 inches (76 cm) of rain had fallen in parts of Houston in the past 48 hours, the National Weather Service said on Sunday, with more on the way. The storm struck at the heart of the country’s oil and gas industry, forcing operators to close several refineries and evacuate and close offshore platforms. “What we’re seeing is the most devastating flood event in Houston’s recorded history. We’re seeing levels of rainfall that are unprecedented,” said Steve Bowen, chief meteorologist at reinsurance firm Aon Benfield. Total precipitation could reach 50 inches (127 cm) in some coastal areas of Texas by the end of the week, or the average rainfall for an entire year. The center of Harvey was about 105 miles (170 km) from Houston and was forecast to arc slowly toward the city through Wednesday. People in Houston and other areas of Texas were asked not to leave their homes, even if they flooded, as roads were impassable. President Donald Trump plans to go to Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the storm, a White House spokeswoman said on Sunday.

 

 

Refineries shut down: The Gulf is home to about nearly half of the nation’s refining capacity, and the reduced supply could affect gasoline supplies across the US Southeast and other parts of the country. Shutdowns extended across the coast, including Exxon Mobil’s Baytown refinery, the second largest US refinery. Gasoline futures rose as much as 7 percent in early trading on Sunday evening, and heating oil futures, a proxy for distillates like diesel fuel, were up as much as 3 percent, as supplies are expected to be curtailed. All Houston port facilities will be closed on Monday because of the weather threat, a port spokeswoman said on Sunday night. The swift rise of floodwaters surprised authorities, and Houston residents with boats were asked to help with rescues. Emergency services told the city’s 2.3 million inhabitants to climb onto the roofs of houses, if necessary, to escape the water. “The water was right at our door,” said Jasmine Melendez, a 23-year-old Houston mother of three, including a week-old infant. “We were also worried about the kids, especially the baby”. Melendez was sheltering at the downtown George Brown Convention Center, which was filled with hundreds of people who showed up for water, food and baby supplies. Some people were being brought to the center in city dump trucks.

 

‘Beyond anything experienced before’: Forecasters could only draw on a few analogues to the storm, recalling Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 and killed 1,800 people, and Tropical Storm Allison. The Harris County Flood Control District said Harvey’s impact would rival that of Allison, which dropped more than 40 inches (102 cm) of rain in Texas in June 2001, flooded 70,000 homes and caused $9 billion in damage. “The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before. Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days,” the National Weather Service said on Twitter. Harvey hit Texas as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour (210 kph), the strongest storm to hit the state since 1961. As of Sunday evening, about 250,000 people were without power, but Center point Energy, which serves Houston, said it could not give an accurate estimate because flooding was preventing crews from reaching customers. Two deaths were confirmed so far – one in Rockport, 30 miles (48 km) north of Corpus Christi, and in west Houston on Saturday. The Twitter account for Harris County 911 said people should not call if their lives were not threatened. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports canceled all commercial flights on Sunday.

 

The Ben Taub Hospital in Houston’s Medical Center was evacuated on Sunday. An American Red Cross emergency shelter was forced to shut because of flooding and the group opened two more. Houston’s schools were scheduled to close for the week, the school district said on Twitter. ConocoPhillips will close on Monday and Tuesday, the company said. Trump, facing the first big US natural disaster since he took office in January, signed a disaster proclamation on Friday, triggering federal relief efforts. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday that 50 counties had been declared state disaster areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had more than 400 rescue personnel in South Texas, and 500 others were in the state and expected to be joining in rescue operations on Sunday evening. Jose Rengel, a 47-year-old construction worker who lives in Galveston, was helping with rescue efforts in Dickinson, Texas, southeast of Houston, where he saw water cresting the tops of cars. “I am blessed that not much has happened to me, but these people lost everything. And it keeps raining,” he said. “The water has nowhere to go”.

 

 

Dozens killed, wounded by car bomb in Afghanistan’s Helmand province

 

 

KABUL: As many as 13 people, including both Afghan army soldiers and civilians, were killed and 18 wounded by a car bomb in the southern province of Helmand on Sunday, officials said. Omar Zwak, the Helmand governor’s spokesman who gave the casualty figures, said the attack occurred in a market in Nawa, a district in the centre of the province, which has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks as government forces have battled for control with Taliban insurgents. Afghan forces said they had retaken Nawa district in July but there has been continued fighting in the area since. There was no claim of responsibility and no immediate comment from the Taliban, which has carried out regular suicide attacks in Helmand, where it controls much of the area outside the provincial capital Lashkar Gah. The hospital in Lashkar Gah run by the Italian aid group Emergency said it had received 3 dead and 19 wounded while Bost Hospital, another facility, said it had received 10 wounded. It was unclear whether any of the wounded had died after being taken to the hospitals. The attack comes just days after a suicide bomber in Lashkar Gah killed at least seven people and wounded 40 as the Taliban continued its push to restore strict Islamic rule to Afghanistan and drive out foreign forces backing the government in Kabul. US President Donald Trump last week announced a stepped-up military campaign against Taliban insurgents who have gained ground steadily in Afghanistan since a NATO-led coalition ended its main combat mission in 2014.

 

 

Fresh violence kills 89 in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

 

 

MAUNGDAW: At least 89 people including 12 security forces were killed as Rohingya militants besieged border posts in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar‘s authorities said Friday, the highest declared single day toll since fighting broke out last year. The western state is bisected by religious hatred focused on the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, who are reviled by many Buddhists and perceived as illegal immigrants. Friday’s fighting exploded around Rathedaung township, where there has been a heavy buildup of Myanmar troops in recent weeks, with reports filtering out of killings by shadowy groups, army-blockaded villages and a renewed exodus of refugees heading towards neighbouring Bangladesh. Some 20 police posts came under attack in the early hours of Friday by an estimated 150 insurgents, some carrying guns and using homemade explosives, Myanmar’s military said. “The military and police members are fighting back together against extremist Bengali terrorists,” Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing said in a statement on Facebook, using the state’s description for Rohingya militants. The office of de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said 12 security officials had been killed alongside 59 militants. One resident in Maungdaw, the main town in northern Rakhine, said gunfire could be heard throughout the night. “We are still hearing gunshots now, we dare not to go out from our house,” the resident said by phone, asking not to be named. Despite years of persecution, the Rohingya largely eschewed violence. But a previously unknown militant group emerged as a force last October under the banner of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which claims to be leading an insurgency based in the remote May Yu mountain range bordering Bangladesh.

 

A Twitter account (@ARSA_Official) which frequently posts purportedly from the group confirmed its fighters were engaging Myanmar’s military in the area and accused the soldiers of carrying out atrocities in recent weeks. Myanmar says the group is headed by Rohingya jihadists who were trained abroad but it is unclear how large the network is. Suu Kyi’s office posted pictures of weapons that had been taken from militants, mainly home-made bombs and rudimentary knives and clubs. Friday’s violence pushed more Rohingya to leave, with two boats containing around 150 women, children and elderly people attempting to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh. But they were pushed back. “They were scared. We felt pain to send them back,” a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) officer told AFP. The flare up came just hours after former UN chief Kofi Annan released a milestone report detailing conditions inside Rakhine and offering ways to heal the festering sectarian tensions there. Commissioned by Myanmar’s own government, it urged the scrapping of restrictions of movement and citizenship imposed on the roughly one million-strong Rohingya community in Rakhine. In a statement Annan said he was “gravely concerned” by the latest outbreak of fighting. “The alleged scale and gravity of these attacks mark a worrying escalation of violence,” he said. The UN’s top official in Myanmar, Renata Lok-Dessallien, called on all sides to “refrain from violence, protect civilians (and) restore law and order”. The wedge of Rakhine closest to Bangladesh has been in lockdown since October 2016.

 

Deadly attacks by the militants on border police sparked a military response that left scores dead and forced some 87,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. The UN believes those security ‘clearances’ may have amounted to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a mainly Muslim minority living in Buddhist Myanmar. The army and Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government vehemently deny allegations of widespread abuses, including rapes and murders. They have so far refused to grant visas to UN investigators tasked with probing the allegations. Myanmar security forces have conducted sporadic operations to flush out suspected militants throughout this year, often resulting in casualties among Rohingya villagers. They have spoken of their fear at being trapped in between security forces and the militants, who are accused of conducting a shadowy assassination campaign against perceived collaborators with the state. Access to the area is severely restricted and verifying information is difficult. Activists and supporters on both sides of the sectarian divide have a history of posting false images and footage online.

 

 

Indians among eight killed in UK road accident

 

 

LONDON: Indians are among eight persons killed in a road accident in southern England after their mini bus got crushed between two trucks, officials said. Some of those on board the minibus were on holiday from India and visiting their families in the UK. “We are extending all possible assistance to those affected by this tragedy,” the Indian High Commission in London said yesterday. British police are yet to release details of those killed in the crash. The driver of the minibus has been locally identified as India-born Cyriac Joseph. A five-year-old girl, a woman and a man are being treated in a hospital with life-threatening injuries, while another woman has serious injuries. The two truck drivers have been arrested, one of them on suspicion of driving while over the alcohol limit. Both men are being questioned on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and are in police custody. The crash occurred on the southbound M1 highway at Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire yesterday. South Central Ambulance Service said those injured in the collision were taken to hospitals in Milton Keynes, Coventry and Birmingham. Pictures from the crash site show extensive damage to the vehicles involved, including a FedEx vehicle and one belonging to AIM Logistics. “We would like to express our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones and also those whom have been injured at this very sad time,” said Ismail Elmagdoub, director of AIM Logistics, based in Evesham, Worcestershire. “Road safety and compliance is of the utmost importance to AIM Logistics and we are continuing to assist the police as much as possible with their inquiries,” he said.

 

 

16 dead as strong typhoon floods Macau, southern China

A vehicle damaged by Typhoon Hato is seen in Macau

 

 

HONG KONG: The most powerful typhoon to hit the southern Chinese region in more than half a century left at least 16 dead as a sudden deluge swamped the gambling hub of Macau, submerging streets and stranding residents. Macau said on Thursday that eight people were killed in the former Portuguese colony, including two men found overnight in a submerged parking garage. Another 153 were injured amid extensive flooding, power outages, and the smashing of doors and windows by high winds and driving rain. “It’s a calamity, the losses are high and a lot of buildings need repair,” said Macau lawmaker Jose Pereira Coutinho, adding that he heard from many people who still had no water or electricity a day after Typhoon Hato tore across the 30-square kilometer (19-square mile) territory. Coutinho said the flooding was at its worst in the older parts of the city’s downtown, where narrow lanes date back from Macau’s time as a Portuguese colony for more than four centuries. “People were just swimming, they cried for help. There were no boats. The water came so suddenly,” said Coutinho, who slammed the city government for having “reacted so slowly and so badly”. Casinos downtown “were either closed or barely operating,” while some resorts in the newer Cotai district were in better shape but operating without air conditioning, Union Gaming Research analyst Grant Govertsen said in a report. The chief executive of Macau’s local government, Chui Sai On, ordered measures to “further the relief efforts,” the Government Information Bureau said in a statement on Thursday. Residents waded in waist-high murky water and rows of city buses sat half-submerged on city streets, according to photos circulating among residents. Fallen trees blocked roads, causing traffic snarls, and residents lined up with buckets to collect water from public standpipes, television video showed. Macau, which is surrounded by water, is vulnerable to high tides and has few options for draining storm runoff. The territory took almost a direct hit from the storm as it churned toward mainland China. Its reliance on the mainland for electricity compounded problems.

 

Power cuts in neighboring Guangdong province, which supplies nearly 90 percent of Macau’s electricity, cascaded into outages across the city, forcing casino operators, a hospital, and the city’s mobile phone company, CTM, to switch to backup generators. CTM also said two equipment rooms were seriously damaged by flooding, affecting telecommunications service in the area. Power utility CEM said Thursday it was restoring service but about 40,000 customers remained in the dark because of damaged power supply facilities. China’s official Xinhua News Agency said eight more people were killed in Guangdong and one person remained missing. Typhoon Hato roared into the area Wednesday with winds of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour. It weakened into a tropical storm Thursday as it moved farther west inland. Xinhua said almost 27,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters, while extensive damage to farmland due to the heavy rain and high tides was also reported. Almost 2 million households lost power temporarily, while fishing boats were called back to port and train services and flights suspended, Xinhua said. “Compared to other typhoons, Hato moved fast, quickly grew more powerful and caused massive amounts of rainfall,” Wu Zhifang, chief weather forecaster at the Guangdong meteorological bureau, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. By Thursday, a weaker Hato was moving into China’s Guangxi region. Flooding and injuries were also reported in Hong Kong, which lies across the water 64 kilometers (40 miles) from Macau, but there were no reports of deaths. Hato’s fierce gales blew out windows on skyscrapers in the Asian financial capital, raining shattered glass onto the eerily quiet streets below. Hong Kong’s weather authorities had raised the hurricane signal to the highest level for the first time in five years. Three of the earlier deaths in Macau were men, aged 30, 45 and 62. One fell from the 11th floor of a building, one was hit by a truck and another was killed when the wind blew down a wall. Two others, a man aged 48 and a woman, 44, died from drowning, according to a press statement. No information was given for the remaining victim.


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