Powerful typhoon lashes Philippines, killing at least 12
TUGUEGARAO: TYPHOON Mangkhut lashed the northern Philippines with destructive winds and heavy rain that set off landslides and destroyed homes on Saturday, leaving at least 12 people dead and six missing, as southern China braced for the powerful storm.
The strongest typhoon to hit the disaster-prone Philippines this year slammed ashore before dawn in Cagayan province on the northeastern tip of Luzon island, a breadbasket that is also a region of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces with a history of deadly landslides.
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 nearly 150 flights, a third of them international, to be cancelled and halted sea travel.
At least three people died and six others were missing in the mountain city of Baguio after ferocious winds and rain destroyed several houses and set off landslides, which also blocked roads to the popular vacation destination, said the city’s mayor, Mauricio Domogan.
Authorities were verifying the drownings of three people, including two children who reportedly died as the typhoon approached. They also were checking to see what happened to about 70 men who reportedly returned to their coastal village in Cagayan to check on their homes as the typhoon drew closer Friday, sparking concerns over possible storm surges.
Mangkhut’s sustained winds weakened to 170 km per hour with gusts of up to 260 km per hour after it sliced northwestward across Luzon then blew out to the South China Sea, aiming at southern China and Hong Kong, where residents braced for the worst.
With the weather easing, officials warned there was lingering danger.
“It’s still a life and death situation,” defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said by phone, citing past drownings in swollen rivers in mountain provinces after storms had passed.
Storm warnings remained in effect in 10 northern provinces, including Cagayan, which could still be lashed by devastating winds, forecasters said. Thousands of people in the typhoon’s path had been evacuated.
A government damage assessment was underway except in areas still being battered by winds and rain.
(In The Philippines, above) Soldiers assist a family carrying their sick child after their ambulance failed to make it through a road blocked with debris from Typhoon Mangkhut in Baggao town, Cagayan province; (below) Sea water being sucked into the air as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches waters near Taitung county, Taiwan.