Super typhoon hits south China coast after havoc in Philippines

Reuters
A super typhoon made landfall in Guangdong Province yesterday after wreaking havoc in neighboring Hong Kong and Macau and killing at least 64 people in the Philippines.
Reuters

A super typhoon made landfall in south China’s Guangdong Province yesterday after wreaking havoc in neighboring Hong Kong and Macau and killing at least 64 people in the Philippines.

Packing winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour, tropical cyclone Mangkhut is considered the strongest to hit the region this year, equivalent to a maximum Category 5 “intense hurricane” in the Atlantic.

That’s more powerful than the maximum sustained winds of 150kph when Hurricane Florence roared into North Carolina in the United States on Friday.

The eye of Mangkhut, the Thai name for Southeast Asia’s mangosteen fruit, skirted 100km south of Hong Kong but the city was still caught in the typhoon’s swirling bands of rain and gale-force winds.

Hong Kong raised its highest No. 10 typhoon alert at mid-morning as ferocious winds uprooted trees and smashed windows in office and residential buildings, some of which swayed in the gusts, residents said.

“It swayed for quite a long time, at least two hours. It made me feel so dizzy,” said Elaine Wong, who lives in a high-rise tower in Kowloon.

Water levels surged 3.5 meters in some places, waves swamped roads and washed up live fish, washing into some residential blocks and a mall in an eastern district. “It’s the worst I’ve seen,” resident Martin Wong said. “I’ve not seen the roads flood like this, (and) the windows shake like this, before.”

The plans of tens of thousands of travelers were disrupted by flight cancelations at Hong Kong’s international airport, a major regional hub. Airlines such as flagship carrier Cathay Pacific canceled many flights last week.

In the Philippines, casualties reported by various agencies yesterday indicate strong winds and heavy rain that left at least 64 dead and dozens more feared buried in landslides in or near mountainous areas of the Cordillera region.

Search and rescue missions were ongoing, and a local mayor in Benguet province, Victorio Palangdan, said he feared the number killed there could be more than 100.

In Macau, which halted casino gambling late on Saturday, some streets were flooded. “The suspension is for the safety of casino employees, visitors to the city, and residents,” said authorities in the world’s largest gambling hub, who faced criticism last year after a typhoon that killed nine and caused severe damage.

The typhoon, dubbed the “King of Storms” by Chinese media, made landfall in Haiyan Town in the Guangdong city of Taishan at 5pm, packing winds of more than 160kph, officials said.

Ports, oil refineries and industrial plants in the area have been shut. Power to some areas was also reduced as a precaution. In Shenzhen, electricity supply to more than 130,000 homes was cut at one point yesterday.

The storm has fueled concern about sugar production in Guangdong, which accounts for a tenth of national output, at about 1 million tons.

Guangdong is also China’s most populous province, with a population of more than 100 million.

No deaths have been reported so far.

More than 2.45 million people have been relocated and about 48,000 fishing boats called back to port in the province. Work at more than 29,000 construction sites has been suspended.

State television showed scenes of crashing waves, inundated streets and trees half-bent by the strong winds as Mangkhut unleashed its power.

Shenzhen airport, shut since midnight, will be closed until 8am today. Flights have also been canceled in Guangzhou and the island province of Hainan.

High winds and swells also hit Fujian Province, north of Guangdong, shutting ports, suspending ferry services and canceling more than 100 flights. Waves as high as 7.3m were sighted in the Taiwan Strait, Xinhua news agency reported.

Traveling at 30kph, Mangkhut will continue on its northwesterly track, bringing heavy rain and winds to the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region early today. It is expected to weaken into a tropical depression when it reaches southwestern Yunnan Province in the early hours of tomorrow.

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