Evacuation begins as typhoon nears Philippines
PHILIPPINE authorities were evacuating thousands of people from the path of the most powerful typhoon this year, closing schools, readying bulldozers for landslides and placing rescuers and troops on full alert.
More than four million people live in areas at most risk from the storm, which the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii categorised as a super-typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
Typhoon Mangkhut is on course to hit north-eastern Cagayan province early on Saturday. It was tracked on Friday about 250 miles away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 127mph and gusts of up to 158 mph, Philippine forecasters said.
With a massive raincloud band 560 miles wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods, the forecasters said. Storm warnings have been raised in 25 provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, restricting sea and air travel.
After the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts Mangkhut will plough into the Chinese mainland early on Monday morning south of Hong Kong and north of the island province of Hainan.
Philippine Office of Civil Defence chief Ricardo Jalad told an emergency meeting led by President Rodrigo Duterte that about 4.2 million people in Cagayan, nearby Isabela province and outlying regions are vulnerable to the most destructive effects near the typhoon’s 77-mile-wide eye.
Nearly 48,000 houses in those high-risk areas are made of light materials and vulnerable to Mangkhut’s ferocious winds.
Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said that evacuations of residents from risky coastal villages and island municipalities north of the rice-and corn-producing province of 1.2 million people have started and school classes at all levels have been cancelled.
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