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Philippines hit by monster typhoon Mangkhut

Press Association logo Press Association 15/09/2018 By Associated Press Reporter

 

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 (Reuters)

Typhoon Mangkhut has made landfall on the northeastern coast of the Philippines.

The typhoon made landfall before dawn in the coastal town of Baggao in Cagayan province on the northern tip of Luzon island, an agricultural region of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces often hit by landslides.

More than 5 million people are at risk from the storm, which the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre categorises as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

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There were no immediate reports of major damages or casualties in the region, where a massive evacuation from high-risk areas has been under way for the last two days.

With a huge raincloud band 560 miles wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rain that could set off landslides and flash floods.

Storm warnings have been raised in almost all the provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, including the capital, Manila, restricting sea and air travel.

A massive evacuation operation is under way (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Mangkhut was tracked late on Friday about 118 miles away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 127 miles per hour and gusts of up to 158 mph, forecasters said. They said the fast-moving typhoon has gained speed as it moves northwestward at 19 mph.

Typhoon Mangkhut as it approaches the Philippines © Provided by The Press Association Typhoon Mangkhut as it approaches the Philippines

Even if the typhoon weakens slightly after slamming ashore, its winds will remain very destructive, government forecaster Rene Paciente said.

“It can lift cars, you can’t stand, you can’t even crawl against that wind,” Paciente told reporters late on Friday in Manila.

More than 15,000 people had been evacuated in northern provinces by Friday afternoon, the Office of Civil Defence said.

Evacuees walk inside an evacuation centre © Provided by The Press Association Evacuees walk inside an evacuation centre

Concerns over massive storm surges that could be whipped inland by the typhoon’s winds prompted wardens to relocate 143 detainees from a jail in Cagayan’s Aparri town, officials said.

The typhoon hit at the start of the rice and corn harvesting season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, prompting farmers to scramble to save what they could of their crops, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said. The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages.

After the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts Mangkhut will plough into the Chinese mainland early on Monday south of Hong Kong and north of the island province of Hainan. Though it is likely to weaken from a super typhoon to a severe typhoon, it will still be packing sustained winds of 109 mph, it said.

A member of the Philippine Air Force stands in front of a satellite image of Typhoon Mangkhut: More than 5 million people are at risk from the storm (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) © Provided by The Press Association More than 5 million people are at risk from the storm (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The observatory warned of rough seas and frequent heavy squalls, urging residents of the densely populated financial hub to “take suitable precautions and pay close attention to the latest information” on the storm.

Philippine forecasters said the shifting typhoon could possibly blow towards Vietnam after it exits late on Saturday or early on Sunday.

In an emergency meeting on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Cabinet officials from the north to help oversee disaster-response work and told reporters it was too early to consider seeking foreign aid.

“It would depend on the severity of the crisis,” Mr Duterte said. “If it flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help.”

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