Typhoon Mangkhut smashes the Philippines, barrels towards Hong Kong


Residents walk on flooded streets as typhoon Mangkhut batters their city on September 15 in Tuguegarao, Philippines.

Philippine officials were assessing damage and checking on possible casualties as Typhoon Mangkhut on Saturday pummeled the northern breadbasket with ferocious wind and rain that set off landslides, damaged an airport terminal and ripped off tin roofs.

The massive storm cut a swathe of destruction when it struck the northern tip of Luzon island, threatening the lives and homes of roughly 4 million people.

Thousands of people evacuated high-risk areas following major flooding and landslide warnings.

The biggest storm of the year has been downgraded from a "super" to a "severe" typhoon, but it is still considered very risky and the city issued its highest storm warning of Level 10 as winds of up to 117 miles per hour began closing in on the southern coast of China.

As the powerful storm left the Southeast Asian archipelago and barreled toward Hong Kong and southern China, search teams in the Philippines began surveying the provinces that were hit directly.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut - the biggest storm of the year - smashed through the Philippines on Saturday, claiming its first victims as two women were killed when a rain-drenched hillside collapsed on them, while another person drowned in Taiwan.

Businesses and residents on Luzon, an island home to millions, were making last-minute preparations as forecasters warned of wind gusts as high as 255 kilometers per hour.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut is hurtling through the Pacific toward Asia boasting winds as fast as 180 miles per hour.

The storm is now moving 30 km per hour toward the coast of China's Guangdong, CNN quoted the HKO as saying.

They'll fly from Manila once the weather improves, Lorenzana said, carrying aid and allowing rescuers to reach remote areas of the mountainous north.

ASSOCIATED PRESS           A convenience store is taped in preparation for approaching Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on Saturday
ASSOCIATED PRESS A convenience store is taped in preparation for approaching Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on Saturday

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte held a meeting Thursday of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), where it was made a decision to put in place extra emergency procedures ahead of the storm.

The Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon has been heavily damaged.

Mangkhut could be one of the strongest storms to hit Hong Kong in more than six decades, but the city is well prepared for wild weather and started shutting down, closing shops and suspending travel as Mangkut approached. The agency is also investigating more reports, including three more who have allegedly died in a separate landslide and four cases of missing persons.

Benguet province: Roads are being cleared after the typhoon.

About 87,000 people had evacuated from high-risk areas of the Philippines.

Originally a super typhoon billed as the strongest storm of 2018, it lost some of its strength on landfall.

The Hong Kong Observatory also issued a Red Rainstorm Warning at 10.55am.

About a quarter of the estimated 4.2 million people affected by the storm live in poverty and the United Nations estimated about 1.4 million farmers and 100,000 fishermen were hit by the typhoon.

Known locally as Ompong, Typhoon Mangkhut at one point had maximum gusts of 305 kph (190 mph) before it exited the land area before noon and moved towards southern China and Vietnam with reduced wind speeds of 170 kph (106 mph).

The Philippine budget airline Cebu Pacific, along with multiple Hong Kong airlines including Cathay Pacific, also announced flight changes.