Typhoon Mangkhut kills 29, about to lash China

One of scores of signs across Hong Kong warning residents to batten down for Typhoon Mangkhut's big blow.

One of scores of signs across Hong Kong warning residents to batten down for Typhoon Mangkhut's big blow. Photo: EPA/Alex Hofford

A super typhoon has swirled past Hong Kong, barrelling towards the Chinese coast and gaining strength over the South China Sea, after lashing the Philippines and killing at least 29 people.

Typhoon Mangkhut was expected to skirt 100 kilometres south of Hong Kong and veer west towards the coast of China’s southern Guangdong province, and the gaming centre of Macau.

Hong Kong raised its highest number 10 typhoon signal 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,” Elaine Wong, who lives in a high-rise tower in Kowloon, said.

Supermarket shelves were stripped bare as Typhoon Mangkhut approached and residents’ fears reached gale-force levels. Photo: EPA/Alex Hofford

Water levels surged 3.5 metres in some places, waves swamped roads and washed up live fish into some residential blocks and a mall in an eastern district.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” resident Martin Wong told Reuters.

“I’ve not seen the roads flood like this, [and] the windows shake like this before.”

Hong Kong residents taped up their windows and stocked up on water and supplies after authorities warned the storm could be one of the worst to ever hit the city.

Hong Kong’s shop windows are criss-crossed with tape to reduce the risk of flying glass in preparation for Typhoon Mangkhut’s arrival. Photo: AP/Vincent Yu

The plans of tens of thousands of travellers were disrupted by flight cancellations at Hong Kong’s international airport, a major regional hub.

More than 1100 flights arrive and depart daily from the Hong Kong International Airport, servicing a population of over seven million people.

Typhoon Mangkhut made a mess of Manila before turning his 200kph winds on Hong Kong. Photo: AAP

Chinese authorities in Guangdong province have called back more than 30,000 fishing boats and taken precautions at two nuclear power plants that are in the storm’s path.

China’s National Meteorological Centre issued a red alert for the typhoon — the highest possible alert — on Saturday afternoon.

Tourism authorities in Yangjiang ordered 10 scenic spots and five beaches to close.

Mangkhut was a category five typhoon when it crossed the coast in northern Philippines at about 1.40am (local time) on Saturday.

Philippines authorities said at least 25 people were killed, including a baby and a toddler, most of them in landslides in mountainous areas that left at least 13 missing.

“The landslides happened as some residents returned to their homes after the typhoon,” disaster response coordinator Francis Tolentino said on DZMM Radio, adding that 5.7 million people had been affected and most were prepared.

“No matter how prepared we are, there is really some limitation.”

Known locally as Ompong, the typhoon at one point had maximum gusts of 305km per hour before it exited the land area before noon, and moved towards southern China and Vietnam with reduced wind speeds of 170km per hour.

Rapid response teams were on standby with the air force for search and rescue missions as authorities undertook damage assessments in areas in the path of the storm, which felled trees, electricity poles and tore off shop signs and sheet metal roofs hundreds of kilometres away.

There was flooding in several provinces and parts of the capital Manila. Authorities were prepared to release water from several dams, fearing constant rains could push reservoirs to dangerously high levels.

Authorities confirmed that two rescue workers were killed while trying to free people trapped in a landslide in the mountainous Cordillera region, Ricardo Jalad.


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