Hong Kong and Macau are battening down the hatches as the super typhoon hits southern China. Mangkhut left at least 66 people dead in the Philippines, as it smashed property, tore down power lines, and caused landslides.
After leaving a trail of destruction through the Philippines, Typhoon Mangkhut was battering China on Sunday, with Hong Kong and Macau bearing the brunt of its force. Officials in Manila said that the storm had claimed at least 64 lives in their countries, while two were confirmed dead in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong authorities issued their highest storm signal, No. 10, despite the typhoon weakening slightly as it moved across the South China Sea.
Freelance reporter James Ross told DW that “furiously-high winds, torrential rain, and storm surges are hitting all the coastal areas” of Hong Kong.
He said the territory had already seen major flooding in low-lying areas, roads and highways blocked by fallen trees and debris, and damage to buildings with windows smashed by the winds.
China Central Television also reported surges as high as 3 meters (10 feet).
Worst in many years
“This seems like the worst typhoon I’ve experienced in 15 years here,” Ross added.
The South China Morning Post tweeted videos showing the intensity of the winds as they hit the city and nearby Lantau Island.
Matt Bossons, Editor-in-Chief at the @thatsshenzhen website, tweeted a video of his Shenzhen hotel being flooded by coastal waters.
Hong Kong international airport canceled most flights on Sunday, leaving tens of thousands of travelers stranded.
Macau, meanwhile, shut all 42 casinos as the territory braced for a bad hit. Authorities there faced criticism last year, when Typhoon Hato left nine people dead and caused widespread damage.
Elsewhere in China, tens of thousands of people were being evacuated to safer areas, amid predictions of severe storm surges along the coast.
On Saturday, at least 48 people were killed as the typhoon tore through the Philippines’ northern Luzon island, leaving floods and landslides in its wake.
Police said at least 40 people, mostly gold miners, were feared trapped in a landslide, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
A police official told AP that part of a mountain slope collapsed on the miners’ bunkhouses in a small town in Benguet province.
Seven bodies have been dug out by rescuers and an eighth body has been located but not yet retrieved.
Mangkhut made landfall over the town of Baggao, 382 kilometers (237 miles) north of Manila, lashing Cagayan province and nearby areas with maximum winds of 205 kilometers per hour (km/h) and gusts of up to 285 km/h – the equivalent to a Category 5 “intense hurricane” in the Atlantic.
Philippine authorities said most of the dead got caught up in landslides in mountainous areas.
The heavy rains and fierce winds knocked out electricity and communication lines, while thousands of homes and business premises were torn down.
“The landslides happened as some residents returned to their homes after the typhoon,” disaster response coordinator Francis Tolentino told DZMM Radio, adding that 5.7 million people had been affected.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte conducted an ariel inspection of the worst affected region on Sunday.
The Philippines, which is hit by about 20 typhoons a year, is considered one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead or missing.
mm,es/jm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)