Philippines prepares for arrival of Super Typhoon Mangkhut

Philippines prepares for arrival of Super Typhoon Mangkhut

Philippine authorities were evacuating thousands of people from the path of the most powerful typhoon this year with the country on full alert.

Mangkhut - stronger than Hurricane Florence, which is now lashing the US East Coast - is expected to make landfall on the Philippines island of Luzon island early on Saturday.

- There is a possibility that the storm may be downgraded to the equivalent of a Category 3 storm when it touches down on Saturday.

The irony is that a storm Barijat has already hit the region and Mangkhut is right at its heels. Parts of Guam were still without electricity Friday morning.

Officials warned that Super Typhoon Mangkhut carried the intensity of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed more than 6,000 people, a lot of them in a storm surge.

"We are bracing for the worst here", said Lanelyn Carrillo, a spokeswoman for World Vision, a humanitarian organization.

How often has Hong Kong been able to brace and buttress itself against an approaching typhoon while the Philippines absorbs the initial brunt of an awesome force of nature generated far off in the ocean? But as of Thursday, Mangkhut was on track to hit less densely populated areas.

"We're anxious 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. "Dapat may makitang mukha sila doon (There must be a face that people should see there)", the President said in a press conference after the command conference at the Operation Center of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in Camp Aguinaldo.

Food packs and other relief items have been pre-positioned in critical areas.

In the past few days, hundreds of schools have been closed, and even more flights canceled.

More news: Trump says Hurricane Maria death toll number was made up by Democrats

Northern Luzon is also less densely populated.

Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, commander of North Luzon forces, said that around 2,000 troops had been deployed to help with evacuations and other preparations in Cagayan and Isabela, expected to be among the hardest-hit areas. "We are going to evacuate more".

UNICEF said it has prepositioned emergency supplies for about 12,500 families.

In Legazpi city in Albay province, evacuee Delaila Pasion said: "During the previous monsoon rains, half of our house was destroyed so I wanted to take my grandchildren to safety so they would not get hurt".

"Nag-improve tayo lahat (We all improved) after Yolanda, hoping and praying na zero casualty this time", Mr. Posadas said. Officials said 4 million people will likely be exposed to the storm's most damaging effects.

As of 4 p.m., Ompong was last spotted 340 kms east northeast of Casiguran, Aurora, still packing maximum sustained winds of 205 kph with 255 kph gusts.

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. "We are preparing our emergency assets and relief items".

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said he expects widespread damage to crops and infrastructure in his province, and said help would be needed to rebuild. The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages. 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.

"In the case of Mangkhut, it's a huge system and potentially very destructive".

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