Typhoon Mangkhut: Strongest storm of 2018 hits the Philippines

Typhoon Mangkhut: Strongest storm of 2018 hits the Philippines

Ompong, which made landfall in Cagayan at 1:40 am on Saturday, has affected 126,751 Filipinos so far.

Mangkhut is on track to be as strong as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 6,000 people dead in the Philippines in 2013, though that storm hit a more populated part of the country.

Typhoon Mangkhut has slammed into the northern Philippines, unleashing ferocious winds and blinding rain in a region where authorities have been rushing to evacuate tens of thousands of people from high-risk areas.

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.

"Almost all of the buildings here have been damaged, the roofs were blown away", said Rogelio Sending, a government official in Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan.

The threat to life is higher because the storm, spanning 560 miles, is expected to combine with monsoon season to trigger flash floods and landslides.

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-drench hillside collapsed on them and another drowned in Taiwan.

Mangkhut is expected move on from the Philippines on Sunday.

But disaster officials said the country was now better prepared in terms of evacuating and informing high-risk communities, which had experienced a super typhoon in 2016 and knew what was coming.

'It can lift cars, you can't stand, you can't even crawl against that wind, ' Paciente said.

Many residents have begun preparing for the storm by reinforcing their homes and buying food and supplies in bulk.

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People in Hong Kong have started panic buying.

According to GDACS, the storm formed over the northwestern Pacific Ocean last Friday and strengthened as it moved past the Mariana Islands and the United States territory of Guam.

People take shelter in Cagayan, where the storm was projected to make its initial landfall.

Residents walk among destroyed stalls at a public market as Typhoon Mangkhut barreled across Tuguegrao city in Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines, on September 15, 2018.

"We are bracing for the worst here", said Lanelyn Carrillo, a spokeswoman for World Vision, a humanitarian organization.

Fears have been raised about the storm's possible effect on agriculture in Cagayan and Isabela, where the bulk of the Philippines' rice is grown.

At noon, Mangkut was estimated to be about 760km southeast of Hong Kong and predicted to move west-northwest at about 30km/h across the northern part of the South China Sea. "It has the strongest sustained wind (among the typhoons of this year)".

The typhoon is forecast to pass near Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon. The province has recalled more than 36,000 fishing boats to port, while train services between the cities of Zhanjiang and Maoming have been suspended and all ferry services between the Guangdong and Hainan have been put on hold. Fujian province to the north of Guangdong is also closing beaches and tourist sites, the agency reported.

While the authorities said there is slim chance of Mangkhut becoming a super typhoon, it but warned "it is still a powerful and destructive typhoon".

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

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