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Typhoone Mangkhut off the Philippines east coast in the Philippine Sea, as seen in a NOAA/RAMMB satellite image taken at 00:20 UTC on September 13, 2018.

The strongest typhoon could hit north Philippines

Thu, September 13, 2018 09:30

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.

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