Typhoon Mangkhut: 14 killed as storm batters Philippines

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Media captionSuper typhoon reaches the Philippines

Some 14 people have been killed in a massive storm which brought destruction to the northern Philippines, a presidential adviser says.

Typhoon Mangkhut ripped through the Philippines’ main island of Luzon, and is now moving west towards China.

Almost all buildings in the city of Tuguegarao sustained some damage, a government official said, and communications were down in places.

The storm packed winds of 185km/h (115mph).

Four million people were in its path, and thousands were evacuated amid warnings of 6m (20ft) storm surges.

Francis Tolentio, a political adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte, said up to 14 people were killed as a result of the storm.

Two rescuers were killed trying to help people trapped in a landslide. Unverified reports say the body of a young girl was found in the Marikina river, which flows through Manila.

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

The typhoon recalls memories of the deadliest storm on record in the Philippines – Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 – which killed more than 7,000. However, preparation and evacuation procedures have been improved since then.

What is the latest?

The typhoon made landfall at Baggao, in the north-east of the Philippines, at about 01:40 local time on Saturday (17:40 GMT on Friday).

After losing some of its wind speed over land, it was downgraded from a super typhoon and is now travelling with wind speeds equivalent to a category four hurricane.

Image copyrightAFP
Image caption Typhoon Mangkhut has caused widespread damage

Image copyrightAFP
Image caption The powerful storm was felt in the Philippine capital Manila

The storm – known locally as Ompong – has a cloud diameter of about 900km and is heading west at about 30km/h.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) billed the storm as the strongest tropical cyclone the world has faced so far this year.

The Philippine Red Cross shared footage of rising flood waters and winds ripping through towns on Saturday morning.

Image copyrightAFP
Image caption Flooding and landslides were expected

The typhoon is forecast to pass near Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon.

Authorities there have urged residents to stay indoors when the storm approaches. Weather experts say it may be the strongest tropical storm to hit the territory in decades.

Skip Twitter post by @philredcross

WATCH: Flood is already rising in Tuguegarao.

Stay safe everyone!#OmpongPH#TyphoonOmpongpic.twitter.com/Vbtu6QJx2r

— Philippine Red Cross (@philredcross) September 14, 2018

End of Twitter post by @philredcross

In nearby Macau, shops have been boarded up and residents have been sticking tape on their windows.

The typhoon is expected to weaken into a tropical depression by Tuesday.

How prepared was the Philippines?

Authorities in the Philippines have said they were better prepared for the storm than in previous years.

Warnings were issued in dozens of provinces. Travel by sea and air was restricted.

Flights were cancelled, schools shut and the army was on standby.

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Media captionPeople in Aparri tied down their roofs ahead of Typhoon Mangkhut

The heavy rains triggered 42 landslides, officials said.

“We are really frightened,” Delaila Pasion, who had fled her home, told AFP news agency. “They say it is so strong, we were too scared to remain.”

“During previous monsoon rains, half of our house was destroyed so I wanted to take my grandchildren to safety,” she told journalists.

Image copyrightAFP
Image caption Officials are preparing food and supplies for affected residents

The Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season.

In China, where the storm is predicted to hit late on Sunday or early on Monday, the authorities have raised storm alerts to “yellow”, which is the second level on the four-tier warning system.

High-speed rail services have been cancelled in parts of the south, local media report.

Is Hong Kong in danger?

Mangkhut may be classed as a super typhoon, again, by the time it passes, or hits, Hong Kong on Sunday.

At its current rate, forecasters say it could be the strongest typhoon they have seen since they started making records in the 1940s.

Residents have been preparing. Tape has been stuck to the windows, creating ominous X-shapes on the front of homes and offices, and some bamboo scaffolding also appears to have been taken down or secured as a precaution.

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Businesses in Hong Kong have begun to prepare for the incoming storm

This is a place used to preparing for approaching storms but they know this one is big, says the BBC’s Robin Brant.

However, officials are taking no chances. They have asked people to stay indoors.

Antoine Li, a government official at an emergency centre in the village of Tai O on the western coast of Hong Kong’s Lantau island, said residents must not underestimate the storm.

“This typhoon will be very dangerous as it will arrive when everyone is sleeping and there is no way to leave. So we have called on residents to leave the village before it gets dark,” he told Reuters news agency.

A shop owner in the village said: “Everyone is scared of the typhoon this time, very scared”, and they are more worried about the elderly living in stilt houses, who insisted on staying.

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