September 16, 2018
Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong after killing 49 in the Philippines
Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong after killing 49 in the Philippines
At least 49 people were killed after Typhoon Mangkhut, the world’s strongest storm of the year, slammed into the northern Philippines on Saturday before wreaking havoc in Hong Kong throughout Sunday.
Although the storm had weakened overnight, weather authorities in Hong Kong issued their maximum alert as it approached.
As fierce winds of up to 145 miles an hour whipped between skyscrapers in the city’s narrow streets, buildings swayed, trees were downed, roads flooded and windows smashed.
In nearby Guangdong province, southern China, hundreds of thousands were evacuated as the storm neared impact on Sunday evening.
Officials were taking stock of the damage on the Philippines’ northern island of Luzon as aid workers rushed to rescue the victims of landslides, including one which overwhelmed a church where people were taking shelter and another which engulfed a miners’ bunkhouse.
Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong after killing 49 in the Philippines
Between 40 and 50 people were thought to be inside the bunkhouse at an old mining site when the landslide occurred.
“I can’t begin to accept this, but it looks like the casualties here are going to go up to at least 100,” said Victorio Palangdan, the mayor of Itogon, Benguet, in Luzon’s central highlands, according to the New York Times.
A baby and a toddler were among the dead in several smaller landslides in mountainous areas that happened as some residents returned to their homes.
Francis Tolentino, a senior adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte, estimated that 5.7 million people had been affected by the storm, and that delivering aid supplies would be a major challenge.
In the town of Baggao, Mangkhut demolished houses, tore off roofs and downed power lines. Some roads were cut off by landslides and many remained submerged.
Farms across northern Luzon, which produces much of the nation's rice and corn, were sitting under muddy floodwater, their crops ruined just a month before harvest.
"We're already poor and then this happened to us. We have lost hope," 40-year-old Mary Anne Baril, whose corn and rice crops were spoilt, told AFP. "We have no other means to survive," she said tearfully.
Almost a quarter of the five million in the direct path of the storm survive on just a few dollars a day.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people. The country's deadliest storm on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.
Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong after killing 49 in the Philippines
In Hong Kong, the city shut down and social media posts of the storm’s impact went viral, showing roofs being torn off, people being blown off their feet, and a crane toppling over at a construction site. One post showed a hotel door shattering as the glass caved in to the wind’s pressure.
Close to 900 flights were cancelled and many residents taped up their windows and huddled indoors.
Waters surged in Hong Kong's famous Victoria Harbour and coastal fishing villages, from which hundreds of residents were evacuated to storm shelters.
Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong after killing 49 in the Philippines
Some roads were waist-deep in water with parts of the city cut off by floods and fallen trees on Sunday afternoon as the rains continued.
In the fishing village of Tai O, where many residents live in stilt houses built over the sea, some desperately tried to bail out their inundated homes.
"Floodwater is rushing into my home but I'm continuously shovelling the water out. It's a race against time," Tai O resident Lau King-cheung told AFP by phone.
In the neighbouring gambling enclave of Macau, all 42 casinos shut Saturday night and businesses were shuttered Sunday morning, some boarded up and protected by piles of sandbags.
Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong after killing 49 in the Philippines
As the storm moved south past Macau, streets became submerged under water gushing from the harbour.
Urgent preparations were made as the typhoon turned towards China's southern coast, including in Yangjiang, a city of 2.4 million where people were bracing for a direct hit.
Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, issued its highest typhoon emergency alert, according to the People’s Daily, and more than 100,000 people were evacuated.
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