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Disastrous Mangkhut strikes China after tearing through Phil

By Sheetal Sukhija, Vietnam News
17 Sep 2018, 08:44 GMT+10

GUANGDONG, China - The Super Typhoon Mangkhut, dubbed the 'King of Storms' is tearing through Southeast Asia - viciously destroying everything in its path.

Not only has Mangkhut become the biggest and most fearsome storm in the world this year, but it is packing winds of over 200km/hr - which makes it vastly more strong than Hurricane Florence, that is lashing the U.S. East Coast. 

Named after a tropical fruit that is native to Southeast Asia, Typhoon Mangkhut (Thai for mangosteen) was billed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as the strongest tropical cyclone the world has faced so far this year. 

The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorized Mangkhut as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

On Saturday, at about 01.40 am local time (17.40 GMT on Friday), the monstrous typhoon made landfall at the coastal town of Baggao in northeast Philippines - threatening over 5.2 million people that were believed to be in its path.

However, since the Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season, authorities claimed to be prepared better this year, and warnings were issued in dozens of provinces. 

About 48 hours before the storm made landfall, amid warnings of 6m (20ft) storm surges - tens of thousands of people across the country were evacuated to safe shelters.

Further, travel by sea and air was restricted and the army was on standby.

Several flights were cancelled and schools and businesses remained shut. 

Mangkhut rears its head

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) which chose to call the typhoon 'Ompong' confirmed that the life-threatening typhoon made landfall in Baggao, Cagayan early on Saturday morning.

According to weather forecasters, the eyewall of Ompong slammed ashore at 1.40 am and the typhoon brought with it a huge raincloud band 900 kilometers wide, which was seen to be moving north.

Staying on track with predictions, the monstrous storm ravaged towns with record-breaking rainfall and devastatingly strong winds.

As it struck Cagayan Province, the ferocious typhoon was packing 205-kilometer per hour (kph) winds and gusts of up to 255 kph.

As the 550-mile-wide storm - moving at 30 kph - reached the largest and most populous island in the Philippines - Luzon, it was expected to weaken.

However, Pagasa warned that the storm was expected to pack destructive wind and bring blinding rain - with forecasters warning that the strong winds would be able to "lift cars."

In northern and central Luzon, the typhoon left whole villages under mud and flooded vast swaths of land, but left as swiftly as it had arrived - wrecking dangerous levels of destruction nonetheless.

As the year's strongest typhoon swept from the eastern seaboard to the western side, it left a trail of destruction in every province that it touched - from Cagayan to Benguet.

Local officials in various provinces across the affected region pointed out that despite the onslaught lasting a day - the typhoon destructed the single source of livelihood for people in villages, as the strong winds, heavy rains and floods tore apart vegetable farms, while also ripping apart houses. 

Many of the towns remain covered with floodwaters, electric poles and trees uprooted, buildings and most wooden houses destroyed - officials said that it would take a while before life returns to normal. 

So far, authorities in the Philippines have not put forward the total cost of the destruction, but the official death toll rose over 60 on Sunday.

One of the world’s most densely populated cities, the Philippine capital of Manila and its 12 million residents were however, largely spared from major destruction.

The center of the storm passed hundreds of miles to the north of the megacity, even though it brought heavy rain, strong winds and flooding in some areas that are close to the Marikina River - which runs through a part of the city.

As the typhoon made its way west, towards Hong Kong, Macau and eventually China, Philippines officials said that the heavy rains had triggered 42 landslides in the region.

Strongest storm in decades 

At about 7 pm on Saturday, when Mangkhut left the Philippines and was headed for Hong Kong and southern China - the Philippine weather service said that the typhoon had weakened somewhat.

Yet, forecasters warned that it continued to carry gusts of up to 120 mph as the super typhoon passes near Hong Kong on Sunday. 

 Warnings were issued by weather experts in Hong kong, who said that Mangkhut may be the strongest tropical storm to hit the territory in decades.

Moving quickly across the South China Sea, Mangkhut skirted 100 kms (62 miles) south of Hong Kong but still brought intense rainfall and gale-force winds to the territory.

By Sunday morning, Hong Kong raised its highest No. 10 typhoon signal as the strong winds from the typhoon uprooted trees and smashed windows - with residents calling it the worst storm they've lived through in their entire lifetime.

Several flights were cancelled at the Hong Kong International Airport - with some airlines announcing cancellations more than a week before the storm struck.

Meanwhile, authorities in Macau said that the city witnessed flooding of up to 2.5 meters and several people had to be rescued from the surging waters.

Further, the storm left tens of thousands of houses without power.

King of Storm ravages China

The Super Typhoon made landfall in China's most populous province - Guangdong, reaching the Haiyan town at 5 p.m. local time - much before predicted.

By the time it struck the Guangdong province, Mangkhut was packing winds of more than 200km/hr earning the tase of the “King of Storms” by the Chinese media.

Late on Sunday, forecasters tracking the storm's movement noted that while Hurricane Florence ravaged North Caroline in the U.S. - achieving maximum sustained winds of 150 kph (90 mph) - the vicious Mangkhut grew to become the world's biggest storm this year. 

It was equivalent to a maximum Category 5 "intense hurricane" in the Atlantic when it struck China's Guangdong province, which houses more than 100 million people. 

The country's authorities said that industrial plants, oil refineries, ports were shut down as China braced for the storm. 

Further, authorities in Shenzhen were reported to have shut out power supply to over 130,000 homes on Sunday as the storm barreled towards the country's south. 

The Chinese state media reported that ahead of the arrival of the typhoon, nearly half a million people had been evacuated from seven cities in Guangdong.

Further, as the Chinese national meteorological center said that southern China would face a "severe test caused by wind and rain," authorities issued a red alert, the most severe warning.

The state media reported that two people were killed in Guangdong due to the typhoon and that by late on Sunday evening, 2.45 million people had been relocated.

The report pointed out that over 48,000 fishing boats were called back to port in the province and work at over 29,000 construction sites had been suspended.

The storm is expected to reach southwestern Yunnan province the early hours of Tuesday, when it is expected to weaken into a tropical depression.

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