At least 12 people died as super typhoon Mangkhut made landfall in the Philippines on Saturday, reported The Guardian. The typhoon caused landslides, floods, and power outages, whipping the country’s main island Luzon with winds of more than 200 km per hour.
Presidential adviser Francis Tolentino said at least two people were missing and that the toll could climb to 16 after casualty reports were verified.
Ricardo Jalad, chief of the national disaster agency, said two rescue workers were killed while attempting to free people trapped in a landslide in the mountainous Cordillera region. A body was recovered in a river in the capital city of Manila, said the police.
“As we go forward, this number will go higher,” reported AFP quoting Jalad. More than 105,000 people have fled their homes.
Local communication lines have been affected, and the airport has also been damaged.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the country’s national weather agency, said the typhoon, known locally as Ompong, maintained its strength as it moved over West Philippine Sea towards China and Vietnam. While the agency downgraded the threat level in the Philippines, it warned of storm surges and intense rainfall that could trigger more floods and landslides.
“We are asking the people to remain alert and continue taking precautions,” said PAGASA meteorologist Rene Paciente.
Mangkhut was categorised as a level 5 storm when it hit the islands of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean, reported Reuters. It is the 15th and strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, Mangkhut is the strongest tropical cyclone this year.
“Among all the typhoons this year, this one [Mangkhut] is the strongest,” Japan Meteorological Agency forecaster Hiroshi Ishihara told AFP. “This is a violent typhoon. It has the strongest sustained wind [among the typhoons of this year].”
In November 2013, the country was hit by its deadliest typhoon as Haiyan barrelled through the central island, killing more than 7,000 people.
Meanwhile, Mangkhut is expected to make landfall in Hong Kong and mainland China early on Sunday, reported the South China Post. The Hong Kong International Airport cancelled most flights as the typhoon is expected to pick up speed after midnight.
Mangkhut’s path in China also included two nuclear plants in Guangdong province. But authorities at Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station and Taishan Nuclear Power Plant said they were “in combat readiness” mode. The Yangjiang plant is 30 km away from where Mangkhut is expected to make landfall in southern China. Emergency response teams had been briefed and were prepared for the typhoon’s arrival, said an official.
Meanwhile, five people have died so far in the state of North Carolina in the United States after Hurricane Florence struck the country’s east coast late on Friday. Florence, now downgraded to a tropical storm, still poses the threat of storm surges and “catastrophic flooding” in North and South Carolina, said the National Hurricane Center.