Thousands are evacuated as Philippines prepares for huge typhoon
The Philippines is braced for one of the strongest typhoons in its history as authorities evacuate thousands of families, close schools and put rescuers and troops on full alert in the country’s north.
Five million people are expected to be affected by Typhoon Mangkhut, which experts have categorised as a super typhoon with winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
By yesterday morning, almost 10,000 people across three regions had been evacuated and 22 domestic flights cancelled. By the evening, strong winds had downed trees in Tuguegarao, a city in the main northern island of Luzon, where almost all businesses had been closed and police were patrolling otherwise quiet streets.
Weather experts said the storm almost matched the strength of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing and displaced more than five million in the central Philippines in 2013.
Ricardo Jalad, the civil defence chief, told an emergency meeting led by President Rodrigo Duterte that about 4.2 million people in Cagayan, nearby Isabela province and outlying regions were vulnerable to the most destructive effects near the typhoon’s 78-mile eye. Nearly 48,000 houses in those high-risk areas are made of light materials and vulnerable to Mangkhut’s winds.
Manuel Mamba, the governor of Cagayan, said evacuations from coastal villages and island municipalities north of the rice-and corn-producing province of 1.2 million people have started.
Duterte asked cabinet officials from the north to help oversee disaster response work, but told reporters it was too early to consider seeking foreign aid. “It would depend on the severity of the crisis,” Duterte said. “If it flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help.”
Rain from Typhoon Mangkhut begins to hit Tuguegarao in Cagayan