Philippine Typhoon Continues Deadly Path

Philippine Typhoon Continues Deadly PathPhilippine Typhoon Continues Deadly Path

Rescue efforts ramped up in the Philippines Sunday to aid quarter of a million people caught in the path of Typhoon Mangkhut, as authorities attempted to gauge how many people died in the strongest typhoon so far this year.

CNN Philippines reported that 25 people had been killed since the typhoon made landfall in the early hours of Saturday, quoting Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino who described the deaths as "casualties".

The official death toll stands at zero, according to Edgar Posada, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. He said two deaths announced earlier were reported prematurely and are not part of the official toll.

More than 250,000 people were affected by the storm across the country, with around half of those seeking shelter in evacuation centers in the country's north.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte traveled the region Sunday to see the damage and recovery operations, presidential Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN.

Typhoon Mangkhut, also known as Ompong, is now pummeling Hong Kong with strong winds and heavy rain, as it crosses into the Chinese mainland.

Hong Kong's typhoon alert warning is at its highest level, and the city has all but shut down with transport suspended and residents warned to stay indoors.

When Mangkhut made landfall in the Philippines Saturday morning at 1:40 a.m. local time, the storm was packing winds of up to 270 kph, 120 kph stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina.

It will be days if not weeks before the Philippines assesses the full impact of Typhoon Mangkhut.

***Some Relief

However, while the death toll is likely to rise, some relief was expressed Saturday that the storm did not appear to have caused as much destruction as other recent, less powerful storms.

More than 6,000 people died when Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines five years ago, the worst in a generation. That storm displaced nearly 4 million people. Many of the survivors ran short of food, water and medicine almost immediately.

The two people who were reportedly killed by Mangkhut were rescue workers, said Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Both victims were women, killed when a rain-drenched hillside collapsed on them, according to the French news agency AFP.

As of Saturday, the storm had caused 51 landslides in the country's north. Search crews are looking for people reported missing in the mountainous Cordillera region, Tolentino said.

>Airport Damaged

Earlier on Saturday, in the provincial capital Tuguegarao, strong winds lashed buildings, pulling off entire roofs and throwing large chunks of debris into the air.

Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon, a vital transportation hub, was damaged in the storm, forcing the cancellation of more than 100 local and international flights, according to the Department of Transportation.

Authorities were assessing the damage and trying to repair communication systems, the Philippines News Agency reported.

Storm chaser James Reynolds said Sunday that the airport seemed to be being used as a military base to ferry supplies to affected regions.

The Philippines military had planned to send two C-130 airplanes and 10 helicopters to Cagayan province for typhoon relief and rescue efforts, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana via Philippine News Agency.

Lorenzana said they would fly north carrying aid and allowing rescuers to reach remote areas of the mountainous north as soon as the weather improved.

>Heading to China

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) urged the public to stay on the alert as Mangkhut's eye traveled toward Hong Kong and Southern China. Residents taped up windows and secured anything that could take flight in strong winds.

Mangkhut was recorded packing sustained winds of 173 kilometers per hour and guests up to 223 kilometers per hour as the storm's eye passed south of the city in the early afternoon, according to the HKO.

The storm has since departed Hong Kong, but is expected to make landfall on mainland China sometime Sunday evening, the observatory said in a bulletin.

Flights from Hong Kong International Airport were delayed or canceled Sunday, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of passengers. Travelers were urged to check with their airlines.

Train, bus and ferry services to the airport were also suspended, though the airport remains open for passengers who have nowhere else to go.

Typhoon Mangkhut will make another landfall on Sunday night in the Chinese province of Guangdong near the cities of Yangjiang and Zhanjiang.

From there the system will continue to move westward and will rain itself out over northern Vietnam, which could lead to some flooding there early next week.

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