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Super typhoon heads for Hong Kong, China after pummeling Philippines

Philippine authorities said at least 25 people were killed, including a baby and a toddler, most of them in landslides in mountainous areas that left at least 13 missing.

Children that live along the coast of Manila play together on 14 September 2018 as preparations get underway for Super Typhoon Mangkhut to make landfall. Picture: AFP

HONG KONG/MANILA – A super typhoon swirled towards Hong Kong and the Chinese coast on Sunday, gaining in strength over the South China Sea after hurtling through the Philippines, where it wreaked havoc that killed at least 25.

Tropical cyclone Mangkhut is considered the strongest to hit the region this year, packing gale force winds of more than 200 kph, equivalent to a maximum Category 5 “intense hurricane” in the Atlantic.

Philippine authorities said at least 25 people were killed, including a baby and a toddler, most of them in landslides in mountainous areas that left at least 13 missing.

“The landslides happened as some residents returned to their homes after the typhoon,” disaster response coordinator Francis Tolentino said on DZMM Radio, adding that 5.7 million people had been affected and most were prepared.

“No matter how prepared we are, there is really some limitation.”

Mangkhut, the Thai name for Southeast Asia’s mangosteen fruit, was expected to skirt 100 km south of Hong Kong and veer west towards the coast of China’s southern Guangdong province, and the gaming centre of Macau.

“According to the present forecast track, Mangkhut will be closest to the Pearl River Delta around noontime (0200 GMT),” the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Hong Kong raised its highest No. 10 typhoon signal at mid-morning, as fierce waves pounded low-lying areas and strong winds rattled windows in many towering skyscrapers.

Some residents have been evacuated from low-lying areas with storm surges of up to 3.5 m expected.

Tens of thousands of travellers had plans disrupted after Hong Kong’s international airport, a major regional hub, cancelled most flights. Airlines such as its flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, cancelled many flights last week.

Last year, typhoon Hato, one of the strongest in recent years, pummelled the region, causing nine deaths and damage in Macau, sparking criticism that authorities had not been well prepared.

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