A satellite image of Super Typhoon Mangkhut near the Philippines early Thursday, 13 September 2018. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

MANILA, Philippines, 13 September 2018 (NBC News) – Philippine authorities began evacuating thousands of people Thursday 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.

Typhoon Mangkhut could hit northeastern Cagayan province on Saturday. It was tracked on Thursday about 450 miles away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 127 miles per hour and gusts of up to 158 mph, Philippine forecasters said.

With a massive raincloud band 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.

Office of Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad told an emergency meeting led by President Rodrigo Duterte that about 4.2 million people in Cagayan, nearby Isabela province and outlying provincial regions are vulnerable to the most destructive effects near the typhoon's 77-mile-wide eye. Nearly 48,000 houses in those high-risk areas are made of light materials and vulnerable to Mangkhut's ferocious winds.

Across the north on Thursday, residents covered glass windows with wooden boards, strengthened houses with rope and braces and moved fishing boats to safety. […]

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

Officials said other northern provinces started evacuating residents Thursday from high-risk areas, including in northern mountain provinces prone to landslides. […]

On Guam, where Mangkhut already passed, residents dealt with flooded streets, downed trees and widespread power outages. Government agencies were conducting damage assessments and clearing roads, according to the Pacific Daily News. [more]

Philippines starts massive evacuations as huge typhoon nears


A government briefing on typhoon Mangkhut at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines on 13 September 2018. Photo: Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

By Gerry Mullany and Felipe Villamor
13 September 2018

HONG KONG (The New York Times) – The Philippines braced Thursday for the onslaught of Super Typhoon Mangkhut, whose 150-mile-an-hour winds were on a path for a direct hit at the country’s largest and most populous island.

The military and the police in northern Luzon were placed on red alert — barring all troops from going on leave — so they could respond to emergencies in communities expected to bear the brunt of the typhoon, which packed the wind power of a Category 5 hurricane.

The typhoon appeared likely to strike an area considered the breadbasket of the Philippines, raising fears of significant damage to the agricultural sector, which has already been reeling from a series of typhoons that destroyed crops, livestock and fisheries.

The storm could bring “ruinous rain to central Luzon, home to the country’s agricultural land,” warned Richard Gordon, a senator and the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. The typhoon is coming at the start of the corn and rice harvest, and farmers were urged to bring in as much of their crops as they could to minimize the damage.

Officials warned that Super Typhoon Mangkhut carried the intensity of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed more than 6,000 people. But as of Thursday, Mangkhut was on track to hit less densely populated areas. […]

In the Philippine province of Cagayan in northern Luzon, the governor, Manuel Mamba, ordered evacuations and closed schools and offices as precautionary measures. He told The Associated Press that this typhoon “is very different, this is more complicated because of possible storm surges.”

The danger underlined how vulnerable the Philippines has become to climate disruptions because of its location at the crossroads of the Pacific, making it subject to increasingly frequent and powerful typhoons. […]

Mr. Gordon, the head of the Philippine Red Cross, said emergency response teams; search and rescue teams; water, sanitation and health units; and volunteers were on standby in northern and central Luzon, as well as in Manila, awaiting the storm.

“We’re worried for the 10 million people in the Philippines living in the path of this destructive storm, including those who have been displaced several times due to monsoon rains last July and August,” he said. [more]

Super Typhoon Mangkhut Aims at Philippines’ Breadbasket

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