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HONG KONG, Sept 16, 2018 (News Wires) -Typhoon Mangkhut barreled into southern China on Sunday, killing two people after lashing the Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain that left at least 64 dead and dozens more feared buried in a landslide.

More than 2.4 million people had been evacuated in southern China's Guangdong province by Sunday evening to flee the massive typhoon and nearly 50,000 fishing boats were called back to port, state media reported.

In Guangdong, the storm killed two people a few hours after making landfall on Sunday evening and was triggering storm surges as high as 3 meters (10 feet), state broadcaster CCTV said.

Fifteen people were injured in the nearby gambling enclave of Macau, which closed casinos for the first time. The Hong Kong Observatory warned people to stay away from the Victoria Harbour landmark, where storm surges battered the sandbag-reinforced waterfront.

In Hong Kong, a video posted online by residents showed the top corner of an old building break and fall off, while in another video , a tall building swayed as strong winds blew.

The storm shattered glass windows on commercial skyscrapers in the city, sending sheets of paper pouring out of the buildings, fluttering and spiraling as they headed for the debris-strewn ground, according to several videos posted on social media.

The storm also felled trees, tore bamboo scaffolding off buildings under construction and flooded some areas of Hong Kong with waist-high waters, according to the South China Morning Post.

The paper said the heavy rains brought storm surges of 3 meters (10 feet) around Hong Kong.

 

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15, 2018 (MENA) - The defence ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have agreed to look into strengthening their ground forces through conducting military training as an added initiative to solidify their Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA), the Malaysian Bernama news agency reported on Saturday.

This was among the outcome of their meeting held at the Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City, the Philippines, where Malaysia was represented by Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu, said a statement by the Malaysian Ministry of Defence.

It took place in conjunction with his official visit to the country from September 12 to 14, the ministry added.

“The minister reaffirmed Malaysia's strong commitment towards ensuring the continued implementation of the TCA that the three countries have established,” the ministry added.

MANILA, Philippines, Septermber 13, 2018 (AFP) -- The most powerful typhoon of the season is closing in on the northern Philippines, where officials ordered precautionary evacuations and closures of schools and offices and urged farmers to quickly harvest their crops to reduce damage.

Forecasters said Typhoon Mangkhut, considered as the strongest this year, could hit northern Cagayan province on Saturday. It was located about 800 kilometers (500 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 265 kilometers (165 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 325 kph (201 mph). It could maintain the strength of a super typhoon when it hits land in the northeastern corner of Luzon Island.

On Guam, residents woke up Tuesday to flooded streets, downed trees and widespread power outages after Mangkhut passed through overnight.

With a massive rain band 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the storm could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods, Philippine state forecaster Meno Mendoza said.

Authorities said some 10 million people in the Philippines are in the storm's path, not including millions more in heavily-populated coastal China.

Thousands began evacuating in seaside areas of the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where the storm is expected to make landfall early Saturday.

"The pre-emptive evacuation is going on in our coastal municipalities, the villages that are prone to storm surge," local government spokesman Rogelio Sending told AFP. "We are going to evacuate more."

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.

The country's deadliest on record is Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.

MANILA , September 5, 2019 (News Wires) -- The mayor of Ronda, a city in central Philippines, was shot dead on Wednesday morning when several men broke into his office, marking the 16th elected local official to be assassinated under the current administration.

Ronda mayor Mariano Blanco III was pronounced dead at 2.25 a.m local time (18.25 GMT on Tuesday) upon arriving at a nearby hospital in Barili town, police senior inspector JR Palcon said, Efe reported.

According to Palcon, several men who are yet to be identified arrived at the Town Hall in a van at around 1.30 a.m and opened fire inside the municipal office of Ronda in Cebu province where Blanco was said to be sleeping.

Blanco was on the blacklist of public officials allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade that was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte as part of his war on drugs campaign. Blanco was stripped of his authority over police in 2017, although he denied involvement in illegal drugs.

In February, lawyer Jonah John Ungab, Blanco's nephew and deputy mayor of Ronda, was also shot dead after attending a court hearing with his client Kerwin Espinosa.

In July, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines - which comprises 68 mayors from the main cities in the country - requested a meeting with the President to address the assassinations of local officials and their involvement with the government's so-called "narco list."

Started by Duterte in 2016, the war on drugs has unleashed violence in the country, with more than 4,500 suspects killed in police raids and more than 23,500 unsolved murder cases.

MANILA, September 4, 2018 (News Wires)  After a six-month closure, the Philippines will re-open one of its crown jewels, Boracay island, at the end of October.

In April, the government shut down the beach on the direction of the Philippine president who famously called the resort island a “cesspool” after seeing the sewage and environmental damage caused by overcrowding and mismanagement.

But following an intense clean-up and rehabilitation programme that began in April, the government has announced plans to re-open the holiday destination officially on October 26.

The country's Department of Tourism also announced that an initial 2,063 hotel rooms at 25 hotel resorts across the island have complied with permit conditions and have been cleared to re-open.

Over-tourism was also blamed for closing another popular beach destination in Southeast Asia. The Thai beach famous for its starring role in the 2000 film The Beach, Maya Bay, was closed earlier this spring in a bid to save its dying coral reefs.

Also last year, Indonesian officials called the plastic garbage and debris choking the shores of Bali a “garbage emergency.”

MANILA, Philippines, September 4, 2018 (AP) — The Philippine navy extricated one of its largest warships from the shoal where it ran aground last week near a hotly disputed region in the South China Sea.

Two Philippine security officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that tugboats were used to pull the BRP Gregorio del Pilar from the shallow fringes of Half Moon Shoal, which the Philippines calls Hasa Hasa, before midnight. The military later confirmed the successful extrication.

The frigate, which was being towed back to a Philippine port, ran aground during a routine patrol Wednesday night, damaging some of its propellers. Its more than 100 crewmen were unhurt.

The barren shoal is on the eastern edge of the disputed Spratly archipelago, where tensions have run high in recent years after China built seven disputed reefs into man-made islands and reportedly installed missile defence systems.

Philippine defence officials notified their Chinese counterparts after the accidental grounding of the Philippine Navy frigate at the shoal, which Beijing claims, to avoid any misunderstanding, said the two Philippine officials, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the issue publicly.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said last week that China offered to help but that the Philippines would handle it.

A Chinese frigate ran aground on the shoal in 2012 and was pulled away by Chinese military ships.

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