Philippines starts huge evacuations, readies for landslides as super typhoon Mangkhut nears

Erika Holt
September 14, 2018

The state weather service said Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon so far this year, with sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour.

Typhoon Mangkhut could hit northeastern Cagayan province on Saturday.

Mactan Weather Specialist Romeo Aguirre said PAGASA has issued gale warnings to the eastern seaboard of Samar and Southern Leyte, as the weather disturbance has brought moderate to strong winds of 41 to 63 kph.

The typhoon is expected to boost the intensity of seasonal monsoon rains that have already caused widespread flooding in central Luzon, a mainly farming region north of the capital Manila.

On the Philippines' island of Luzon, more than 30 million people are expected to face tropical storm-force winds.

President Rodrigo Duterte and defence, interior and energy chiefs were given a briefing on emergency plans for a storm that could impact 4.3 million people, more than 800,000 of whom live in poverty.

MANILA-Moderate to heavy rains are expected in most parts of the country starting Wednesday (Sept. 12) as the strong typhoon with global name "Mangkhut" continues to gain strength and moves westward into the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

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.

"I worry especially for houses made of light materials", said Marilou Cayco, governor of Batanes, a chain of seven remote islands 240 km (149 miles) off the mainland where she said up to 3,000 families could be "battered".

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Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said by telephone that evacuations of residents from risky coastal villages and island municipalities north of the rice-and corn-producing province of 1.2 million people have started and classes at all levels have been cancelled.

Speaking at a news conference, Duterte said there is no need yet to seek foreign aid, and it would "depend on the severity of the crisis".

The President also said that it is too early to ask for global aid, however, he insisted that if the typhoon "flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help" from other nations.

Schools were shuttered and some farmers took to their fields to start early harvest of corn and rice that could be ruined by flooding. The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages.

Duterte canceled his appearance at a missile test firing aboard a navy ship off northern Bataan province due to the approaching typhoon.

On Guam, the typhoon knocked down houses, power lines and trees, with around 88 per cent of the island having electricity by Thursday morning.

Mangkhut, a Thai word for the mangosteen fruit, 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.

It is drawing comparisons with Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated central areas of the archipelago nation in 2013, killing 6,300 people.

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