Thou­sands are evac­u­ated as Philip­pines pre­pares for huge typhoon

The Guardian - - WORLD - Han­nah El­lis-Petersen and agen­cies

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

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