Evacuation underway as huge typhoon nears Philippines, China

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES: 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.
More than 4 million people live in areas at most risk from the storm, which the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii categorized as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
Typhoon Mangkhut is on course to hit northeastern Cagayan province early Saturday. It was tracked on Friday about 400 kilometers (250 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph), Philippine forecasters said.With a massive raincloud band 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods, the forecasters said. Storm warnings have been raised in 25 provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, restricting sea and air travel.After the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts Mangkhut will plow into the Chinese mainland early Monday morning south of Hong Kong and north of the island province of Hainan. Though it will weaken from a super typhoon to a severe typhoon, it will still be packing sustained winds of 175 kph (109 mph).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.The gambling enclave of Macau, next door to Hong Kong, suffered catastrophic flooding during Typhoon Hato last August that left 10 dead and led to accusations of corruption and incompetence at its meteorological office.On the Chinese mainland, the three southern provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan are coordinating preparations, including suspending transport and moving people to shelter inland, the national meteorological agency reported.
Guangdong, China’s manufacturing hub, has set up 3,777 shelters, while more than 100,000 residents and tourists have been moved to safety or sent home. The province has recalled more than 36,000 fishing boats to port, while train services between the cities of Zhanjiang and Maoming have been suspended and all ferry services between the Guangdong and Hainan have been put on hold.