Strong winds and rain batter buildings as Typhoon Mangkhut hits Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Pic: AP
Strong winds and rain batter buildings as Typhoon Mangkhut hits Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Pic: AP

Biggest typhoon in 25 years makes landfall in Philippines

PHILIPPINE forecasters say Typhoon Mangkhut has slammed into the country's northeastern coast.

Witnesses say the storm's ferocious winds and blinding rain ripped off tin roof sheets and knocked down power at the start of the onslaught.

Forecasters said early on Saturday that the typhoon made landfall in the coastal town of Baggao in Cagayan province nearly two hours after midnight in the northern tip of the main Luzon island.

Strong winds and rain batter buildings and business establishments as Typhoon Mangkhut hits Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines on Saturday. Picture: AP
Strong winds and rain batter buildings and business establishments as Typhoon Mangkhut hits Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines on Saturday. Picture: AP

It is an agricultural region of flood- prone rice plains and mountain provinces often hit by landslides.

More than five million people are at risk from the storm, which the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorises as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

There were no immediate reports of major damages or casualties in the region, where a massive evacuation from high-risk areas has been under way for the last two days.

A day earlier, 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 in the country's north.

Residents evacuate to safer grounds as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches on September 14, 2018 in Tuguegarao city, northern Philippines. Picture: Jes Aznar/Getty Images
Residents evacuate to safer grounds as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches on September 14, 2018 in Tuguegarao city, northern Philippines. Picture: Jes Aznar/Getty Images

With a huge raincloud band 900km wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rain that could set off landslides and flash floods.

Storm warnings have been raised in almost all the provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, including the capital, Manila, restricting sea and air travel.

Mangkhut was tracked late on Friday in the Pacific with sustained winds of 200km/h and gusts of up to 250km/h, forecasters said.

They said the fast-moving typhoon has gained speed as it moves northwestward at 30km/h.

Even if the typhoon weakens slightly after slamming ashore, its winds will remain very destructive, government forecaster Rene Paciente said. "It can lift cars, you can't stand, you can't even crawl against that wind," Paciente told reporters late on Friday in Manila.

More than 15,000 people had been evacuated in northern provinces by Friday afternoon, the Office of Civil Defence said.

 

A man rides his tricycle as strong winds and rain from Typhoon Mangkhut. Picture: Aaron Favila
A man rides his tricycle as strong winds and rain from Typhoon Mangkhut. Picture: Aaron Favila

Concerns over massive storm surges that could be whipped inland by the typhoon's winds prompted wardens to relocate 143 detainees from a jail in Cagayan's Aparri town, officials said.

The typhoon hit at the start of the rice and corn harvesting season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, prompting farmers to scramble to save what they could of their crops, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said.

The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages.

After the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts Mangkhut will plough into the Chinese mainland early on Monday south of Hong Kong and north of the island province of Hainan.

Though it is likely to weaken from a super typhoon to a severe typhoon, it will still be packing sustained winds of 175km/h, it said.

The observatory warned of rough seas and frequent heavy squalls, urging residents of the densely populated financial hub to "take suitable precautions and pay close attention to the latest information" on the storm. Philippine forecasters said the shifting typhoon could possibly blow towards Vietnam after it exits late on Saturday or early on Sunday.

Guests sleep inside a hotel restaurant after the roof of their room was partly damaged due to strong winds from Typhoon Mangkut in Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines on Saturday. Picture: Aaron Favila
Guests sleep inside a hotel restaurant after the roof of their room was partly damaged due to strong winds from Typhoon Mangkut in Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines on Saturday. Picture: Aaron Favila

 

 

Rain covers the city lying on the path of Typhoon Mangkhut as residents prepare its approach on September 14. Picture: Jes Aznar
Rain covers the city lying on the path of Typhoon Mangkhut as residents prepare its approach on September 14. Picture: Jes Aznar


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