Macau has been devastated by the most powerful typhoon to hit the territory in half a century. Typhoon Hato left at least nine people dead in the former Portuguese colony. The death toll may rise, as rescuers are searching for people who may have been trapped in cars that were swept out to sea.

Many residents and tourists have complained that the government was woefully unprepared for Typhoon Hato and its destructive winds of more than 200kmh (124mph). Macau's government broadcaster TDM said Typhoon Hato, a maximum signal 10 storm, was the strongest to hit the territory since 1968.

Exteriors of buildings, including parts of multi-billion dollar casinos, were ripped away by Hato's powerful winds. Severe flooding overwhelmed Macau, which is in the process of building new infrastructure such as a light rail, to cope with a surge in visitors. Macau has rapidly transformed from a sleepy fishing village over a decade ago into a major gambling hub, although infrastructure has mostly failed to keep pace with its development.

Flooding and injuries were also reported in Hong Kong, which lies across the water 64 kilometres (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.

Hato was later downgraded to a tropical storm and expected to weaken further as it moves inland over China. China's official Xinhua News Agency said four more people were killed in the province of Guangdong and one person remains missing.

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