The Latest: Hong Kong, southern China brace for typhoon
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on Typhoon Mangkhut hitting the Philippines (all times local):
Southern China is bracing for Typhoon Mangkhut, which is currently pummeling the northern Philippines, by halting ferry services, evacuating tens of thousands of fishermen and sending boats back to port.
In Fujian province, 51,000 people were evacuated from fishing boats and around 11,000 vessels returned to port on Saturday morning.
China’s National Meteorological Center issued an alert saying Mangkhut would make landfall somewhere on the coast in Guangdong province on Sunday afternoon or night, packing strong winds and heavy rains.
In nearby Hong Kong, Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu urged residents to prepare for the worst as Mangkhut barreled toward the southern Chinese city.
Cathay Pacific says all flights will be canceled between 2:30 a.m. local time on Sunday and 4 a.m. Monday.
The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center has downgraded Mangkhut from a super typhoon to an equivalent of a category 4 hurricane, after making landfall in the northeastern Philippines before dawn Saturday.
The Philippine government has reported no casualties so far as the typhoon continued to pummel Luzon with heavy rains and gusts. Transportation has ground to a halt as many roads are flooded and airports closed.
According to JTWC, Mangkhut is packing maximum sustained winds of 115 knots, or 212 kilometers (130 miles) per hour. The Philippine weather agency has slightly lower numbers.
Philippine forecasters say Typhoon Mangkhut has slammed into the country’s northeastern coast. Witnesses say the storm’s ferocious wind and blinding rain ripped off tin roof sheets and knocked down power at the start of the onslaught.
Forecasters said early Saturday that the typhoon made landfall in the coastal town of Baggao in Cagayan province nearly two hours after midnight in the northern tip of the main Luzon island. It is an agricultural region of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces often hit by landslides.
More than 5 million people are at risk from the storm, which the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorizes as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
Philippine authorities were evacuating thousands of people from the path of the most powerful typhoon this year, closing schools, readying bulldozers for landslides and placing rescuers and troops on full alert in the country’s north.
More than 4 million people live in areas at most risk from the storm, which the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii categorized as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
Typhoon Mangkhut is on course to hit northeastern Cagayan province early Saturday. It was tracked on Friday about 400 kilometers (250 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph), Philippine forecasters said.
With a massive raincloud band 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods, the forecasters said. Storm warnings have been raised in 25 provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, restricting sea and air travel.