Published: Sat, September 15, 2018

Typhoon Mangkhut: Strongest storm of 2018 hits the Philippines

Typhoon Mangkhut: Strongest storm of 2018 hits the Philippines

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

"We are bracing for the worst here", said Lanelyn Carrillo, a spokeswoman for World Vision, a humanitarian organization. To be more alert when the storm surge does come in, especially for the low-lying or coastal areas of the Philippines, because at the time [of typhoon Haiyan] some people were not that educated about the storm surge.

The Philippines Red Cross said it had activated 30,000 volunteers across Luzon to prepare for the impact of the storm and dispatched a "humanitarian caravan" consisting of rescue and relief vehicles to the parts of the island expected to be among the worst affected.

AirAsia Group Bhd had cancelled at least 22 flights as of Saturday morning, upsetting travellers from Manila to Shenzhen and Macau, according to a Facebook post.

"The concerns here are landslides and infrastructure being washed away", said Junie Cua, governor of Quirino province on the main island of Luzon.

But disaster officials said the country was now better prepared in terms of evacuating high-risk communities, which had experienced a super typhoon in 2016 and knew what was coming.

Mangkhut's peak winds have been stronger than those of Hurricane Florence, which killed five people and halted power supply to more than 900,000 USA homes and businesses in the Carolinas, before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

The evacuation centre in the town is said to have been destroyed and phone networks are down.

Posadas said an estimated 5.2 million people are in the path of Mangkhut, with 983,100 considered to be below poverty line or most vulnerable to the effects of the typhoon.

People take shelter in Cagayan, where the storm was projected to make its initial landfall. "Our staff and volunteers are on high alert for possible deployment".

"The weather here is still good but we're moving them now because it's very important that when it comes, people will be away from peril", Mamba said. According to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the damage may reduce the country's rice supply and result in losses of up to 7.9 billion Philippine pesos ($146.2 million). In addition to the four killed in the Philippines a women was swept out to sea in Taiwan.

The worst of the storm will be borne by Hong Kong and Macau, however, which are now in Mangkhut's path.

To prepare, the Hong Kong government convened an interdepartmental meeting on Wednesday.

Hong Kong was braced for Mangkhut, with authorities expected to raise the second strongest typhoon signal between 11 pm and 2 am (1500 and 1800 GMT).

Known locally as Ompong, Typhoon Mangkhut at one point hit gusts of 305 kph before it left the Philippines and moved across the South China Sea with reduced wind speeds. Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific said all Sunday flights would be grounded.

Queenie Lam, a senior scientific officer at the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), told CNN that Mangkhut was "expected to pose a considerable threat to the coast of Guangdong" in southern China and would bring gale-force winds to Hong Kong.

As Typhoon Mangkhut makes its way through northern Philippines, dozens of Taiwan-Hong Kong/Macau flights were canceled for September 15-17.

"Representatives from relevant bureaus and departments also reported their preparatory work and contingency plans, particularly on measures in the prevention and handling of flooding, backflow of seawater and emergency plans for high-risk locations", a government statement read.

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