Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On pledged at a press conference on Thursday that the government would strive to get residents’ lives back to normal as soon as possible after typhoon Hato hit Macau.
Despite “proper preparations”, Chui admitted that the government had not “done enough”, adding there was room for improvement regarding the forecasting of typhoons, the way the government informs residents about the possible threats of typhoons, and the response work.
“These two days, we have faced an extremely difficult test together. Hato was the strongest typhoon in 53 years and has brought tremendous damage to Macau,” Chui said.
“In facing this disaster, we admit that we have not done enough, there is room for improvement. Here I represent the MSAR government in expressing our apologies to the residents,” Chui said according to the Macau Post Daily
The Chief Executive announced that he accepted the resignation of Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) Director Fong Soi Kun on Thursday over his controversial handling of the Hato disaster on Wednesday. Residents have blamed Fong for having failed to warn them in time about the severity of the approaching typhoon. Fong headed the weather bureau since the late 1990s.
The press conference was held at the government headquarters to announce what measures the government is carrying out and what it plans to do to restore the typhoon-hit city back to normal. It was attended by the Chief Executive and 14 other senior officials.
At the beginning of the press conference, Chui and the other officials bowed their heads for a minute’s silence for the eight people who died on Wednesday.
The eight victims, seven of whom were locals and the other a mainlander were aged between 30 and 70. Three died in their shops in the Inner Harbour area, two drowned in a submerged car park of a residential building in Patane district, one fell from his flat onto the podium of a residential building, one was hit by a coach and one was killed when the wind blew down a wall.
Other sources indicate that the number of victims could rise above eight.
The government also said that Macau’s flag flying from government buildings, border checkpoints, the airport, port facilities, and its offices in other regions and countries will be flown at half-mast today, in mourning for the eight typhoon victims – six males and two females.
Fire Services Bureau (CB) Commissioner Leong Iok Sam said that 244 people were injured during the typhoon and many still remain in the hospital. Tens of thousands of people still do not have neither water nor energy.
According to Xinhua news agency typhoon Hato destroyed more than 4,000 trees in Macau.
Macau Foundation (FM) Acting President Au Weng Chi said that his foundation would provide a string of subsidies to those affected by Hato. Each bereaved family will be given 300,000 patacas (US$ 37,500).
Each injured person who received treatment in one of the city’s three hospitals on Wednesday or Thursday can apply for their medical fees to be covered by the foundation, Au said, adding that the maximum each applicant can receive will be 30,000 patacas. They will need to register before next Thursday.
According to Au, residents living on lower floors who were affected by the typhoon-induced flooding or residents whose windows were damaged during the typhoon could apply for a subsidy of up to 30,000 patacas before September 30.
Au said that residents who were affected by the electricity blackout and water supply stoppage would be compensated in their bills – 1,000 patacas from Macao Water and 1,000 patacas from CEM.
Au also said the public foundation had imported over 100,000 bottles of water and was distributing them to residents in need. These measures and subsidies would cost the foundation 1.35 billion patacas (US$168 million).
Meanwhile, the government’s Industrial and Commercial Development Fund will launch an interest-free loan scheme for the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by Hato, Economic Services Bureau (DSE) Director Tai Kin Ip said during the press conference.
The maximum for the interest-free loan that each business owner can apply for will be 600,000 patacas, Tai said.
Tai said the fund would also offer a subsidy of up to 30,000 patacas for businesses affected by the typhoon. Tai said that 2.6 billion patacas (US$325 million) would be used for the interest-free loans and subsidies.
Hato was the first No. 10 signal typhoon to hit the city since Macau’s reversion to Chinese rule in December 1999.
Photo: All about Macau