In another indication that local authorities are seeking to keep a tight grip on information in the wake last week’s deadly Typhoon Hato, police in Macau have arrested an elderly brother and sister accused of making false claims about deaths resulting from the storm, which killed at least ten people when it barreled into the former Portuguese colony last week and exposed huge gaps in the city’s disaster preparedness.
Citing a spokeswoman for the Macau Judiciary Police, the South China Morning Post reports that a 73-year-old man and his 68-year-old sister were arrested for disseminating misleading information over the popular Chinese social media messaging app WeChat.
On Saturday, Macau immigration officials barred four Hong Kong journalists from entry, according to The Post. At least one of them was given a written statement saying that he “posed a risk to the stability of internal security.”
This TIME reporter was also detained by immigration officials when returning to Hong Kong after gathering information for a story on the typhoon’s aftermath.
The arrested siblings alleged that five bodies — including a family of four killed inside a car — were recovered from an underground parking lot in Fai Chi Kei, one of neighborhoods hit hardest by the storm. Local authorities, their messages said, were covering up the unreported deaths and preventing the media from accessing the site in which they allegedly took place.
The woman reportedly told police she had received the information from an online chat room on Saturday and shared it on social media the following day.
Four of the ten deaths officially attributed to Typhoon Hato occurred in underground car parks — and one of those in an underground carpark in Fai Chi Kei.
Typhoon Hato was the severest to hit Macau in about 50 years. Much of the city lost power and water supply and widespread damage was done to buildings.