Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall in China’s Guangdong province on Sunday after wreaking havoc in Hong Kong and Macau and killing potentially more than 50 people in the Philippines.
Packing winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour (kph) at its peak, Mangkhut’s strength outstripped that of Hurricane Florence, which achieved maximum sustained winds of 150 kph when it roared into North Carolina in the United States on Friday.
The eye of Mangkhut skirted 100 kilometers south of Hong Kong but the city was still caught in the typhoon’s swirling bands of rain and gale-force winds.
Hong Kong raised its highest No. 10 typhoon signal Sunday morning as ferocious winds uprooted trees and smashed windows in office and residential buildings, some of which swayed in the gusts.
Water levels surged 3.5 meters in some places and waves swamped roads and threw up live fish, washing into some residential blocks and a mall in the eastern Heng Fa Chuen district.
Flight cancellations at the city’s international airport disrupted the plans of tens of thousands of travelers.
In the Philippines, casualties reported by various agencies Sunday evening indicated the death toll from the impact of Mangkhut could exceed 50, with most killed in landslides in or near mountainous areas of the Cordillera region.
Francis Tolentino, an advisor to President Rodrigo Duterte and head of the government’s disaster coordination, said the latest number of casualties was 33 dead and 56 missing.
But the head of the military’s Northern Luzon Command, Emmanuel Salamat, told Reuters that at least 19 more were killed in landslides in one part of Benguet province.
The 19 who died were part of a bigger group of 43 people, likely miners, and those who were still alive were feared to be trapped in an old mining bunkhouse that had collapsed under rubble, Salamat said.
Search and rescue missions were ongoing, and a local mayor in Benguet, Victorio Palangdan, said he feared the number killed there could be more than 100.
In Macau, which took the unprecedented step of halting casino gambling late on Saturday, there was serious flooding of up to 2.5 meters, authorities said. Some people had to be rescued from homes on rubber dinghies.
Around 20,000 Macau households also suffered a power blackout, local media reported.
Mangkhut made landfall in Haiyan town in Guangdong province at 5 pm local time, weather officials said.
Ports, oil refineries and industrial plants in the area have been shut. Power to some areas was also reduced as a precaution. In Shenzhen, the electricity supply to more than 130,000 homes was cut at one point on Sunday.
According to state media, two people were killed in Guangdong due to the typhoon as of 8 pm local time Sunday.
More than 2.45 million people have been relocated and over 48,000 fishing boats called back to port in Guangdong province. Work at more than 29,000 construction sites has been suspended.
State television showed scenes of crashing waves, inundated streets and trees half-bent by the strong winds as Mangkhut unleashed its power.
High winds and swells also hit Fujian province north of Guangdong, shutting ports, suspending ferry services and cancelling more than 100 flights.
Traveling at 30 kph, Mangkhut will continue on its northwesterly track, bringing heavy rain and winds to the autonomous region of Guangxi early on Monday.
It is expected to weaken into a tropical depression when it reaches southwestern Yunnan province the early hours of Tuesday. (Reuters)
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