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Typhoon Hato aftermath: Macau arrests two people for ‘spreading rumours’, as ex-Observatory chief investigated

Macau police have arrested two people on suspicion of releasing false information alleging that the authorities had sought to cover up the discovery of bodies in a car park during Typhoon Hato. Former Macau Observatory chief Fong Soi-kun is also being investigated in relation to the disaster following complaints from the public.

Last week’s storm caused power outages, severe flooding, and 10 deaths in Macau, with Fong resigning and the government issuing a public apology.

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Photo: SocRec 社會紀錄頻道.

Judiciary police spokesperson Yeung Sau-chan said on Monday that a 73-year-old man had been arrested for using his phone to spread unverified information. The rumour alleged that the authorities had found five corpses in a Fai Chi Kei car park – among them, a family of four who drowned after being trapped in a car.

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The rumour claimed that the authorities failed to make an announcement about the incident, and would not allow the media to publicise it, RTHK reported. The message encouraged others to circulate it.

Yeung said that the man sent the message to at least six different chat groups and 30 individuals through private chat without verifying whether it was true.

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See also: Journalism watchdogs lambaste Macau for denying entry to Hong Kong journalists reporting on typhoon

Yeung said that both the man and his 68-year-old sister – whom he said he received the information from – were arrested.

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Ex-observatory chief Fong Soi-kun. File Photo: Apple Daily.

Article 181 of the Penal Code forbids citizens from spreading information which damages the credibility of any individual or institution which exercises public authority.

Following numerous complaints from the public, the corruption commission in Macau also said that the Ombudsman is investigating the role played by Fong as the head of the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau during the storm. They seek to determine whether any laws or regulations have been violated.

The report will be submitted to the chief executive and made public.

macau police

Photo: Apple Daily.

According to a report by Apple Daily, the Macau police has refused to grant permission to an individual wishing to hold a vigil for the victims of the storm.

The police said that all of its manpower is currently focused on post-typhoon relief efforts over the next two weeks and it does not wish to divert its resources to handle a public gathering.

Typhoon Hato aftermath: Macau arrests two people for 'spreading rumours', as ex-Observatory chief investigated