Published On: Sat, Sep 15th, 2018

At least 12 killed as Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Philippines

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Typhoon Mangkhut has left at least 12 people dead in the Philippines, mostly in landslides and houses that were pummelled by the storm’s fierce winds and rain, officials said Saturday.

Presidential adviser Francis Tolentino said the dead included an infant and another child who were among four people killed in a landslide in Nueva Vizcaya, one of several provinces battered by the powerful storm.

Tolentino said at least two other people are missing and the death toll could climb once other casualty reports are verified.

The typhoon tore through the northern tip of the Philippines with winds of 124 km/h, along with torrential rain, causing floods, landslides and power outages.

Mangkhut entered the Philippines as a super typhoon in the early hours and sent winds and rains across the entire main island of Luzon, home to about half the country’s 105 million people.

Known locally as Ompong, Typhoon Mangkhut at one point had maximum gusts of 305 km/h before it exited the land area before noon and moved toward southern China and Vietnam with reduced wind speeds of 106 km/h.

Villagers view what is left of their home in the typhoon-hit town of Baggao, in Cagayan province, Philippines, on Saturday. (Francis R. Malasig/EPA-EFE)

Philippine state weather agency PAGASA downgraded the domestic threat level, but warned the danger was far from over, with storm surges and heavy rains that could trigger floods and more landslides.

“We are asking the people to remain alert and continue taking precautions,” said PAGASA meteorologist Rene Paciente.

Rapid response teams were on standby with the air force for search and rescue missions as authorities undertook damage assessments in areas in the path of the storm, which felled trees, electricity poles and tore off shop signs and sheet metal roofs hundreds of kilometres away.

Strongest storm this year

There was flooding in several provinces and parts of the capital Manila. Authorities were preparing to release water from several dams, fearing constant rains could push reservoirs to dangerously high levels.

Mangkhut had been a Category 5 storm for days since wreaking havoc in U.S. Pacific territories of Micronesia before edging toward the Philippines, where it is the 15th and strongest storm this year.

The typhoon’s peak winds were stronger than those of Hurricane Florence, which has killed at least five people in the United States after it piled into the Carolinas, knocking down trees, gorging rivers and causing major power outages before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Surge warnings

Some 105,000 people were staying in temporary shelters after mass evacuation of coastal areas of the Philippines following major storm surge warnings.

Authorities in some areas of northern Luzon turned off power as a precaution, and said some residents in high-risk areas chose to ride out the storm to protect homes from looters.

More than 1,000 houses were impacted in Cagayan province, where the storm first made landfall, with authorities in the town of Baggao saying they had lost contact with an emergency response team, said Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Cagayan province hit hard

Rogelio Sending, a government official in Cagayan, said there were provincewide power and communication outages and reports of uprooted trees blocking roads.

“This makes the clearing operations really difficult,” he said by phone.

The typhoon’s centre made landfall in Cagayan province early Saturday, destroying many homes. (care.org)

The Philippines is still haunted by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in central areas of the country in 2013, most due to huge storm surges.

But authorities say they were better prepared this time in terms of evacuating and informing high-risk communities.

Mangkhut’s winds weakened as it churned toward the South China Sea, aiming at southern China and Hong Kong.

Cheng Cho-Ming, assistent director with Hong Kong’s Forecasting and Warning Services agency, said Mangkhut will bring strong gales and downpours along with storm surges to the city.


With files from The Associated Press

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