PHILIPPINES is preparing to face the most powerful typhoon of the year with high velocity-winds expected to hit the disaster-prone country’s northern region this weekend before heading towards China.
After blasting through the Northern Mariana Islands, Typhoon Mangkhut is speeding across the Pacific with winds that can gust as high as 255 kilometres (160 miles) per hour, the AFP reported.
Typhoon Mangkut will be the strongest typhoon this year with sustained winds exceeding 200 kilometres per hour, according to local meteorologists.
Philippine state forecaster Meno Mendoza said the storm could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods.
The super typhoon has some 10 million people in its path, authorities said. But this number did not include millions more in heavily-populated coastal China.
Local government spokesman Rogelio Sending said thousands of residents 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,” he said.
“We are going to evacuate more.”
On Average, Philippines is lashed by 20 typhoons annually, leaving hundreds dead and millions displaced from their homes.
In Nov 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,350 dead or missing across central Philippines, the country’s deadliest on record.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it expects “substantial damage” on Mangkut’s path in the Philippines, according to the AP.
The organisation said storm surges of up to seven metres (23 feet) are expected to hit coastal areas.
Towns and cities on the typhoon’s path are setting up evacuation centres in government buildings, stockpiling food and other emergency rations. The local authorities are also putting rescue teams and equipment on standby.
Authorities in Hong Kong were also making preparations this week even though the storm is expected to hit the island city on Sunday.
A number of Hong Kong residents took to social media to say they had stockpiled on food and supplies after the local observatory warned that the typhoon posed a “considerable threat”.