Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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Typhoon Mangkhut rips through Hong Kong, China, at least 66 dead

Hong Kong and southern China under maximum alert as biggest storm of the year kills dozens in the Philippines.


Hong Kong and southern China took cover on Sunday as strong winds and heavy rain from Typhoon Mangkhut lashed the densely populated coast, a day after the biggest storm to hit the Philippines this year left at least 64 people dead.

Two more people were killed as the storm made landfall in southern China, according to Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.

More than 2.4 million people had been evacuated from seven cities in Guangdong province of China, according to The Associated Press news agency.

In Hong Kong, authorities warned people to stay away from the Victoria Harbour landmark, where storm surges battered the waterfront reinforced with sandbags.

The gambling enclave of Macau, meanwhile, closed its casinos for the first time, according to the South China Morning Post, as nearly 50,000 fishing boats were called back to port.

Mangkhut made landfall in Guangdong around 5pm local time (09:00 GMT) on Sunday, packing wind speeds of 162 km/h, while 10-metre-high waves battered the coastline.

The national meteorological centre said southern China "will face a severe test caused by wind and rain" and urged officials to prepare for possible disasters.

The Hong Kong Observatory said although Mangkhut had weakened slightly, its extensive, intense rainbands were bringing heavy downfall and frequent squalls.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled. All high-speed and some normal rail services in Guangdong and Hainan provinces were also halted on Sunday, the China Railway Guangzhou Group Co said.

Footage posted on social media showed fierce winds throwing people to the ground, swaying buildings, smashed windows and serious flooding.

A video reportedly filmed in Hong Kong's Kowloon area showed scaffolding collapsing at a building site.

In Fujian province and elsewhere, tens of thousands of fishing boats returned to port and construction work came to a stop.

Fuelled by the warm waters of the South China Sea, the typhoon will begin to lose power now it is overland and will be reclassified as a tropical storm. 

However, flooding over its forecast path is expected to be extensive as heavy rain falls out of the declining cyclone. 

In Gyangdon, 250mm of rainfall is expected over the next 24 hours, with some pockets of 400mm. 

Philippines hit hard

In the Philippines, the death toll of Mangkhut jumped to 64 on Sunday as more landslide victims were discovered. 

Most were killed in landslides in or near the Cordillera mountain region, AP reported. 

At least 40 people, mostly gold miners, got trapped in a landslide in the country's north.

READ MORE: Super Typhoon Mangkhut makes landfall in the Philippines

Police superintendent Pelita Tacio told AP that a part of a mountain slope collapsed on the miners' homes in a far-flung village of Itogon town in Benguet province as winds and rain pounded the gold-mining region on Saturday.

Rescue efforts are being hampered by rain and mud but search operations are expected to resume at daybreak on Monday, according to Victorio Palangdan, the mayor of Itogon.

Among the fatalities were an infant and a two-year-old child who died with their parents after the couple refused to immediately evacuate from their high-risk community in a Nueva Vizcaya mountain town, said Francis Tolentino, an adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

"They can't decide for themselves where to go," he said of the children, expressing frustration that the tragedy was not prevented.

About 87,000 people had evacuated from high-risk areas of the Philippines. Tolentino and other officials advised them not to return home until the danger had passed.

In Cagayan's capital, Tuguegarao, where the typhoon hit land, Associated Press journalists saw a severely damaged public market; its roof ripped apart and wooden stalls and tarpaulin canopies in disarray.

Outside a popular shopping mall, debris was scattered everywhere and government workers cleared roads of fallen trees.

The Tuguegarao airport terminal was also damaged, its roof and glass windows shattered by strong winds.

The typhoon struck at the start of the rice and corn harvesting season in the northern breadbasket, prompting farmers to scramble to save what they could of their crops, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said.

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