EVACUATIONS BEGIN AS SUPER TYPHOON APPROACHES THE PHILIPPINES
MANILA — Philippine authorities started to evacuate thousands of people from coastal areas yesterday as a super typhoon with winds of more than 205 km per hour bore down on the country’s main island.
Typhoon Mangkhut is forecast to make landfall early tomorrow on the northern tip of Luzon island, and will be the strongest of 15 storms to have hit the Philippines this year.
Medical and emergency response teams were on standby, heavy equipment mobilised and more than 1,7 billion pesos (about R473 million) of relief goods prepared as Mangkhut, known locally as Ompong, edged towards the storm-prone nation on its way towards southern China and northern Vietnam.
“What’s happening now is pre-emptive evacuation in certain areas,” said Manuel Mamba, governor of the north-eastern province of Cagayan, where schools and offices were closed and police, military and coastguard told to be ready.
“There are no people on the streets as they are preparing for the storm,” he told a radio station.
Mangkhut, the Thai word for the fruit mangosteen, has a diameter of about 900 km, with gusts of up to 255 km/h.
It is drawing comparisons with Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated central areas of the archipelago nation in 2013, killing 6 300 people.
President Rodrigo Duterte and defence, interior and energy chiefs were given a briefing on emergency plans for a storm that could impact 4,3 million people — more than 800 000 of whom live in poverty.
Mangkhut has gathered strength since it struck the United States’ Pacific territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana islands overnight on Monday, tearing down trees and power lines and leaving hundreds of people homeless.
Its next destination is the Philippines, which on average sees 20 tropical storms a year.