The number of people killed by Typhoon Mangkhut as it tore a path of destruction through the Philippines has risen to 25, authorities said Sunday.
“As we speak… there are 25 dead,” Francis Tolentino, the government’s lead disaster co-odinator, told AFP as reports began to emerge from regions cut off by the typhoon. Super Typhoon Mangkhut — the biggest storm of the year — smashed through the Philippines on Saturday. Mangkhut tore through the northern part of Luzon island, where it made landfall in the pre-dawn darkness, ripping off roofs, felling trees and knocking out power.
The area is home to around 10 million people, many of whom live in flimsy wooden shelters. As the powerful storm left the Southeast Asian archipelago and barrelled towards densely populated Hong Kong and southern China, search teams in the Philippines began surveying the provinces that suffered a direct hit. “We believe there has been a lot of damage,” said Social Welfare Secretary Virginia Orogo as thousands of evacuees took refuge in emergency shelters. Mangkhut was packing sustained winds of 170 kilometres (105 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 260 km per hour as it left the Philippines. An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty. ALSO READ: Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Phillippines, leaving 12 dead; China on alert Thousands of people fled their homes in high-risk areas ahead of the storm’s arrival because of major flooding and landslide risks. In Taiwan, a woman was swept away by high waves caused by the typhoon, the government said. A man walks as high waves hit the shore at Heng Fa Chuen, a residental district near the waterfront, as Typhoon Mangkhut slams Hong Kong, China Photo: Reuters Residents had started lashing down their roofs and gathering supplies days before the arrival of the storm. “Among all the typhoons this year, this one (Mangkhut) is the strongest,” Japan Meteorological Agency forecaster Hiroshi Ishihara told AFP on Friday. “This is a violent typhoon. It has the strongest sustained wind (among the typhoons of this year).” “They (authorities) said this typhoon is twice as strong as the last typhoon, that’s why we are terrified,” Myrna Parallag, 53, told AFP after fleeing her home in the northern Philippines. “We learned our lesson last time.
The water reached our roof,” she said, referring to when her family rode out a typhoon at home in 2016.
The country’s deadliest on record is Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013. Poor communities reliant on fishing are some of the most vulnerable to fierce typhoon winds and the storm surges that pound the coast. “The rains will be strong and the winds are no joke… We may have a storm surge that could reach four storeys high,” Michael Conag, a spokesman for local civil defence authorities, told AFP. ALSO READ: Super Typhoon Mangkhut threatens to hit Asia with $120 bn in damages As the storm heads for China’s southern coast, Cathay Pacific airline said it expects more than 400 flight cancellations over the next three days. The Hong Kong government said Mangkhut will pose “a severe threat to the region” as many residents in the city and neighbouring Macau stocked up on food and supplies. The president of neighbouring Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, pushed citizens to be ready. “The typhoon is powerful and even it’s not expected to make a landfall in Taiwan, we should be well prepared and not… take it lightly,” she wrote on Facebook.