Typhoon Mangkhut: Philippines wakes to storm destruction

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Media captionSuper typhoon reaches the Philippines

Areas of the northern Philippines have woken up to destruction wrought by the strong winds and heavy rains of a massive storm, Typhoon Mangkhut.

Almost all buildings in the city of Tuguegarao sustained some damage, a government official said, and communications were down in places.

However, there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

More than four million people are directly in the path of the storm, with sustained winds of 185km/h (115mph).

Thousands were evacuated amid warnings of 6m (20ft) storm surges.

The typhoon is forecast to barrel toward China across the weekend.

The deadliest storm on record in the country was Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed more than 7,000.

What is the latest?

The typhoon made landfall at Baggao, in the north-east of the Philippines, at about 01:40 local time on Saturday (17:40 GMT on Friday).

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The storm is the 15th, and strongest, to hit the country this year

After losing some of its wind speed over land, it was downgraded from a Super Typhoon and is now travelling with wind speeds equivalent to a category four hurricane.

The storm – known locally as Ompong – has a cloud diameter of about 900km and is heading west at about 30km/h.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) billed the storm as the strongest tropical cyclone the world has faced so far this year.

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A government official said some roofs had been ripped off and electricity lines downed in Tuguergarao

The Philippines Red Cross shared footage of rising flood waters and winds ripping through towns on Saturday morning.

The typhoon is forecast to pass through Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon.

Authorities there have urged residents to stay indoors when the storm approaches, and weather experts say it may be the strongest tropical storm to hit the territory in decades.

The typhoon is expected to weaken into a tropical depression by Tuesday.

How prepared is the country?

Authorities in the Philippines have said they were better prepared for the storm than in previous years.

Warnings have been issued in dozens of provinces, and sea and air travel has been restricted.

Flights have been cancelled, schools shut and the army is on standby.

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Media captionPeople in Aparri tied down their roofs ahead of Typhoon Mangkhut

The authorities have also warned that heavy rains could trigger landslides and flash floods.

“We are really frightened,” Delaila Pasion, who had fled her home, told AFP news agency. “They say it is so strong, we were too scared to remain.”

“During previous monsoon rains, half of our house was destroyed so I wanted to take my grandchildren to safety,” she told journalists.

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Officials are preparing food and supplies for affected residents

The Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season.

In China, where the storm is predicted to hit late on Sunday or early on Monday, the authorities have raised storm alerts to “yellow”, which is the second level on the four-tier warning system.

High-speed rail services have been cancelled in parts of the south, local media report.

Hong Kong battens down

By Robin Brant, BBC News China correspondent

Tape has been stuck to the windows; ominous Xs can be seen on the inside of homes and offices, and some bamboo scaffolding appears to have been taken down or secured as a precaution.

Passengers planning to fly out of Hong Kong’s international airport on Sunday have been warned to expect “severe disruption”.

Officials have asked people to stay indoors and – to the few who may be thinking about it – not to go out surfing or storm chasing.

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Businesses in Hong Kong have begun to prepare for the incoming storm

This is a place used to preparing for approaching storms but they know this one is big.

Mangkhut may be classed as a super typhoon, again, by the time it passes, or hits, Hong Kong at some time on Sunday.

At its current rate, forecasters say it could be the strongest typhoon they’ve seen since they started making records in the 1940s.

Is global warming to blame?

The relationship between climate change and hurricanes is a complex one.

Warmer seas power hurricanes. So as the temperature of ocean water goes up, we might expect the intensity of hurricanes to increase in future.

A hotter atmosphere can also hold more water, so this should allow hurricanes to dump more water on affected areas.

But there are so many factors that contribute to these rare events, it has been difficult to tease out clear trends from the data.

Are you in the area? How are you preparing for the typhoon? Let us know by emailing

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