The Witness - - NEWS -

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.

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