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Typhoon Mangkhut: thousands evacuated as Philippines braces for super storm

Weather system could bring gusts up to 255km/h and wreak havoc in densely populated agricultural regions

Philippine authorities have begun 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 in the country’s north.

More than four million people live in areas at most risk from Typhoon Mangkhut, which experts have categorised as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category five Atlantic hurricane.

Mangkhut was on course to hit north-eastern Cagayan province early on Saturday local time. It was tracked on Friday about 400km (250 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205km/h and gusts of up to 255km/h, Philippine forecasters said.

Millions of people are in the path of Typhoon Mangkhut

Typhoon MangkhutIt was predicted to travel across the South China Sea and pass within 100km of Hong Kong on Sunday morning.

With a massive raincloud band 900km wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods, the forecasters said. Storm warnings were raised in 25 provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, restricting sea and air travel.

Ricardo Jalad, the country’s 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 125km-wide eye. Nearly 48,000 houses in those high-risk areas are made of light materials and vulnerable to Mangkhut’s winds.

 

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