Philippines starts evacuations along coast as Super Typhoon Mangkhut nears

Typhoon Mangkhut to intensify into deadly Cat 5 storm mammoth rains likely

Typhoon Mangkhut to intensify into deadly Cat 5 storm, mammoth rains likely

It is now barreling across the Pacific Ocean with wind gusts of more than 178 mph an hour (287 kph). It could affect as many as 31.4 million people in the region, according to the United Nation's Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. Mangkhut has already passed over Guam where power outages and torrential wind and rain impacted the small island.

Thousands are evacuating seaside areas of the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where the storm is expected to make landfall early Saturday.

Typhoon Mangkhut is expected to bring heavy rains and flooding along the northern coastal provinces of Cagayan and Batanes.

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

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"Although there are still uncertainties in the subsequent track of Mangkhut and its distance from Hong Kong, Mangkhut's extensive circulation will bring significantly deteriorating weather to Hong Kong on Sunday with frequent heavy squally showers".

Super Typhoon Mangkhut is now located 607miles east of Manila in the Philippines and is moving westward at a speed of 12.6 miles per hour.

The storm, named after a fruit in Thailand, is forecast by the United States military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center to bring top winds of 145 knots (268 kilometers per hour) with maximum gusts of 175 knots.

The civil defence office in Manila said towns and cities on Mangkhut's path are preparing government buildings as evacuation centres, stockpiling food and other emergency rations.

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The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year is threatening the farmlands in Northern Luzon just before the rice and corn harvest. In the territory, frequent strong winds and showers could occur and serious floods could caused by storm surge in lower areas, ' the SMG told MNA.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered Cabinet officials to personally check on the provinces directly in the path of Typhoon "Ompong".

Mangkhut is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. Nevertheless, the forecast path could continue to be revised over the coming days, with September 15 being the date that the storm comes closest to the country.

The storm's current path has it passing through the Luzon Strait between the Philippines and southern Taiwan, before continuing on to Hong Kong and Macau.

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