Typhoon Mangkhut: Millions in Philippines braced for storm

Vastavam web: A super typhoon roared toward the Philippines on Thursday, packing fierce winds and heavy rains that are expected to strike the disaster-prone nation at the weekend before moving on to China. Typhoon Mangkhut, which has already blasted through the Northern Mariana Islands, is speeding across the Pacific with winds that can gust as high as 255 kilometres (160 miles) per hour.

Authorities said some 10 million people in the Philippines are in the storm’s path, not including millions more in heavily-populated coastal China. Thousands began evacuating in seaside areas of the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where the storm is expected to make landfall early Saturday. The country’s deadliest on record is Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.

The state weather service said Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon so far this year, with sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour. The typhoon is expected to boost the intensity of seasonal monsoon rains that have already caused widespread flooding in central Luzon, a mainly farming region north of capital Manila Hong Kong is also in Mangkhut’s sights and preparations there were already underway, though the storm was not expected to hit until Sunday.

The Hong Kong Observatory warned residents to prepare for the storm, saying it posed a “considerable threat”. The Philippines state weather service said heavy rains and strong winds are expected from Friday over the north and centre of Luzon, along with rough seas on the coasts. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it expects “substantial damage” on the Philippine path of Mangkhut. Storm surges of up to seven metres (23 feet) are expected to hit coastal areas, it said, while heavy rains could trigger landslides and flash floods.