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11.53 14 Sep 2018


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The Philippines is braced for a "super typhoon" with winds as powerful as a category five Atlantic hurricane.

Authorities believe 10 million people are in the path of Typhoon Mangkhut, which is on course to hit Cagayan province.

The Typhoon’s ferocious winds are set to strike at the weekend before moving on towards China.

Nearly 48,000 houses in high risk areas are made of light materials, with 4.2 million vulnerable to the most destructive effects of the weather system.

The Cagayan weather service said Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, with sustained winds of 205kph.

A man carries a sheet of plywood as locals prepare for Typhoon Mangkhut, 14-09-2018. Image:  Aaron Favila/AP/Press Association Images

Evacuation

Authorities have been evacuating thousands of people from the area, with schools closed and bulldozers on hand to cope with expected landslides.

Gusts as high as 255kph have been recorded, as the Typhoon tears across the Pacific Ocean.

Residents covered glass windows with wooden boards, strengthened houses with ropes and braces, and moved fishing boats to safety across the north on Thursday.

The storm was tracked about 400km (250miles) away from Cagayan province on Friday.

Thousands have begun evacuating seaside areas in the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where the storm is expected to make landfall early on Saturday.

Warnings

Storm warnings have been raised in 25 provinces across the island, restricting sea and air travel.

Delaila Pasion, who had fled her home, said: "We are really frightened. They say it is so strong. We were too scared to remain.

"During the previous monsoon rains, half of our house was destroyed so I wanted to take my grandchildren to safety," she said.

Cagayan governor Manuel Mamba said that residents have been evacuated from risky coastal villages and island municipalities to the north of the province.

Families at a temporary evacuation centre in Cagayan province in the Philippines, 14-09-2018. Image:  Aaron Favila/AP/Press Association Images

He said: "The weather here is still good but we're moving them now because it's very important that when it comes, people will be away from peril."

Mr Mamba added: "A change in the typhoon's track prompted authorities to rapidly reassess where to redeploy emergency teams and supplies."

Harvest

Mr Mamba said the typhoon is approaching at the start of the rice and corn harvesting season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, and farmers were scrambling to save what they could of their crops.

The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages.

With a massive rain cloud band 560 miles wide (900km), combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods.

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.

The country's deadliest super typhoon on record is Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.

Additional reporting Michael Staines ...


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