Full alert as massive super-storm nears Philippines

Pauline Gross
September 16, 2018

It's forecast to cross the South China Sea and strike Guangdong by Sunday. In the Philippines, economic losses could reach 6.6 per cent of gross domestic product, or more than $20 billion, he said.

"In a storm this intense it's hard to imagine that more damage isn't out there", McCarthy said.

Officials told CNN Philippines the cost to rice and corn crops could be upward of $116 million, with more than 1,220,000 hectares of fields expected to be damaged by the storm. He said the death toll could climb to at least 16 once other casualty reports were verified.

Current sustained winds are at 165 kph (102 mph) with wind gusts of up to 205 kph (127 mph), according to the Hong Kong Observatory. It's expected to be 101 nautical miles from Hong Kong by midday local time on Sunday.

Francis Tolentino, a presidential spokesman and disaster response coordinator, said nearly all the deaths had been caused by landslides in the Cordillera and Nueva Vizcaya regions. It's estimated that the tropical cyclone put at least five million people at risk.

"In Taiwan, while there could be locally damaging wind in the south, flooding rainfall will be the main threat across eastern and southern areas", Meteorologist Tony Zartman was quoted as saying.

Mangkhut, the strongest storm anywhere on the planet in 2018, made landfall in Cagayan province, on the northern tip of the Philippines island of Luzon, about 2:30 a.m. local time Saturday. Six transmission lines in Luzon were toppled by the storm.

China and the Philippines agreed to postpone a visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that was to start Sunday due to the onslaught, which caused almost 150 flights, a third of them global, to be canceled and halted sea travel.

More than 1100 flights arrive and depart daily from the Hong Kong International Airport, servicing a population of over 7 million people. The Philippine budget airline Cebu Pacific, along with multiple Hong Kong airlines including Cathay Pacific, also announced flight changes.

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AirAsia Group Bhd had cancelled at least 22 flights as of Saturday morning, upsetting travellers from Manila to Shenzhen and Macau, according to a Facebook post.

The national meteorological centre said southern China "will face a severe test caused by wind and rain" and urged officials to prepare for possible disasters.

"It's extremely risky as it's a very large system with very strong winds and a potential storm surge over a large distance", he said.

Impacts may also be felt in northern Vietnam once typhoon Mangkhut has moved further ahead.

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.

The fear of Mangkhut is remembered by the Philippians in the form of Typhoon Haiyan, which had caused huge damage in 2013 causing the death of more than 6,000.

Philippine presidential adviser Francis Tolentino said the dead included an infant and another child who were among four people killed in a landslide in Nueva Vizcaya, one of several provinces battered by the typhoon. The storm's landfall came hours after Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic hit the North Carolina coast in the US.

Strong winds and heavy rain hit Hong Kong during the early hours of Sunday, and conditions are expected to intensify as the day goes on.

Other reports by GizPress

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