Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Typhoon Mangkhut heading for China as Philippines death toll rises to 28

Typhoon Mangkhut heading for China as Philippines death toll rises to 28

"It can lift cars, you can't stand, you can't even crawl against that wind", warned Philippines government forecaster Rene Paciente, who also cautioned that even if the typhoon weakens after making landfall, it will still be incredibly destructive.

Typhoon Mangkhut killed at least 28 people in the Philippines as it obliterated homes and crops and caused massive flooding, and is now on course to plough into China's coast.

A strong typhoon tore through the northern tip of the Philippines on Saturday packing winds of more than 200 kph (124 mph) along with torrential rain, killing at least three people, wrecking homes and triggering at least 42 landslides.

Presidential adviser Francis Tolentino says the dead included an infant and another child who were among four people killed in a landslide in Nueva Vizcaya, one of several provinces battered by the typhoon on Saturday.

Thousands of people fled their homes in high-risk areas ahead of the storm's arrival because of major flooding and landslide risks.

By 7 p.m., Mangkhut's eye was about 150 miles off its west coast of Laoag City, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Disaster authorities have yet to complete damage assessments from Mangkhut, the 15th and most powerful storm to hit the Philippines this year, which had maximum gusts of 305 kph (190 mph), and was expected to clear land after 10:00 a.m. on its way towards southern China and Vietnam.

Mangkhut, the Thai name for the mangosteen fruit of southeast Asia, was expected to skirt around 100km south of Hong Kong and veer westwards towards the Chinese coastline of Guangdong province, as well as the gambling hub of Macau straddling the Pearl River Delta.

Mangkhut is now a Cat 5 Typhoon packing winds of 285 kmph.

Its tropical storm-force winds extended 550 miles across, according to the country's weather agency, making it almost double the size of Florence, the hurricane-turned-tropical storm that made landfall over the southeastern United States on Friday. It's estimated that the tropical cyclone put at least five million people at risk.

The national meteorological centre said southern China "will face a severe test caused by wind and rain" and urged officials to prepare for possible disasters.

In the Manila suburban city of Pasig, the body of a teenage girl was recovered from under a bridge in the swollen Marikina River, police said. But officials in Hong Kong are still warning residents to be cautious.

In Cagayan's capital city of Tuguegarao, heavy rain and strong winds lashed buildings, pulling off signage and throwing debris into the air.

"Because Mangkhut will bring winds and rains of extraordinary speeds, scope and severity, our preparation and response efforts will be greater than in the past", Lee said.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said in a statement it's cancelling all flights in and out of Hong Kong on Sunday beginning at 2:30 am, and wouldn't resume operations until 4 am the following day. Tens of thousands more have been evacuated from China's Guangdong province, CNN reported.

Like Robil, MU student Jay Encina is also from the Philippines and has experienced typhoons firsthand. It's only the 15th time in the last 60 years that a T10 alert has been hoisted; the last was for super typhoon Hato last year.

Mangkhut is on track to be as strong as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 6,000 people dead in the Philippines in 2013, though that storm hit a more populated part of the country.

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