Typhoon Mangkhut: Philippines lashed by winds of more than 100mph

President Rodrigo Duterte monitors the path of Typhoon Mangkhut at a centre in the capital Manila

President Rodrigo Duterte monitors the path of Typhoon Mangkhut at a centre in the capital Manila

Measured by US standards it was a Category-5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the US Navy and Air Force's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii. Moreover, Mangkhut will further gain strength in the open waters of South China Sea and become a Cat 4 Typhoon.

In nearby Hong Kong, Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu urged residents to prepare for the worst as Mangkhut barreled toward the southern Chinese city.

Northern Luzon was also devastated in 2016 by Super Typhoon Haima - known as Lawin locally - with 14,000 houses destroyed and 50,000 damaged, according to CNN Philippines.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the typhoon may cause billions in damage to some crops, but that there was enough rice supply for the next 96 days.

Saving lives was paramount and it was too soon to know the extent of Mangkhut's devastation, said Francis Tolentino, an adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and disaster response coordinator.

Mangkhut has a diameter of about 900 km (559 miles) and gathered pace as it reached the Philippines, but has since slowed, with wind speeds falling to 180 kph (112 mph). It's expected to be 101 nautical miles from Hong Kong by midday local time on Sunday.

Thousands of people evacuated high-risk areas following major flooding and landslide warnings.

Mangkhut slammed ashore before dawn Saturday in Cagayan province in the northeast and is on target to hit southern China on Sunday. Emergency has been in place for several parts of Philippines along with other parts of Southeast Asia including Hongkong. Six transmission lines in Luzon were toppled by the storm.

China and the Philippines agreed to postpone a visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that was to start Sunday due to the typhoon's onslaught, which caused almost 150 flights, a third of them worldwide, to be canceled and halted sea travel.

As a result, the inbound service, EY833 on September 16, from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi, has also been cancelled. Its unit Cathay Dragon said it won't be flying Sunday.

Philippines Airlines scrapped 41 Saturday flights, including those to Hangzhou and Tokyo, it said on Facebook.

"The rains will be strong and the winds are no joke". There's a chance Mangkhut will weaken as it approaches China, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Weather Underground, an IBM company in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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

The Philippines Red Cross said it had activated 30,000 volunteers across Luzon to prepare for the impact of the storm and dispatched a "humanitarian caravan" consisting of rescue and relief vehicles to the parts of the island expected to be among the worst affected.

Mangkhut's peak winds have been stronger than those of Hurricane Florence, which killed five people and halted power supply to more than 900,000 USA homes and businesses in the Carolinas, before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

On the other side, in the North Atlantic Ocean, another Godzilla storm, Hurricane Florence has made landfall over North Carolina.

Mangkhut, which is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, has prompted mass evacuations in the Philippines.

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