Typhoon aims at south China after killing 28 in Philippines
Typhoon Mangkhut roared toward densely populated Hong Kong and southern China today after ravaging across the northern Philippines with ferocious winds and heavy rains that left at least 28 dead. The strongest storm so far this year in the world sliced across the northern tip of Luzon Island yesterday. Over 5 million people were in the path of typhoon when it hit the Philippines.
Today morning, typhoon packed sustained winds of 155kmph and gusts of up to 190kph. Hong Kong and southern China issued the highest storm signals. The Guangdong provincial office in charge of flood prevention said nearly half a million people had been evacuated from seven cities. The Hong Kong Observatory said although Mangkhut had weakened slightly, its extensive, intense rainbands were bringing heavy downfall.
The storm surge of about 3m (9.8 feet) or above is expected at Hong Kong's waterfront Victoria Harbour, the observatory said, appealing on the public to avoid the shoreline. Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu urged residents to prepare for the worst.
"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. "Each department must have a sense of crisis, make a comprehensive assessment and plan, and prepare for the worst," he said. In nearby Fujian province in China, 51,000 people were evacuated from fishing boats.
China's National Meteorological Center issued an alert saying Mangkhut would make landfall somewhere on the coast in Guangdong province on Sunday afternoon or evening. Ferry services in the Qiongzhou Strait in southern China were halted on Saturday and helicopters and tugboats were dispatched to Guangdong to transfer offshore workers to safety and warn ships about the typhoon, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde said that 20 had died in the Cordillera mountain region, four in nearby Nueva Vizcaya province and another outside of the two regions. Three more deaths have been reported in northeastern Cagayan province, where the typhoon made landfall. Francis Tolentino, an Adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said at least two other people were missing.
About 87,000 people had evacuated from high-risk areas of the Philippines. Tolentino and other officials advised them not to return home until the lingering danger had passed. Outside a popular shopping mall, debris was scattered everywhere and government workers cleared roads of fallen trees. The Tuguegarao airport terminal also was damaged, its roof and glass windows shattered by strong winds.
Mangkhut, the Thai word for mangosteen fruit, is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 storms a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.