Ferocious typhoon plows through rain-soaked Philippines


Associated Press

TUGUEGARAO, Philippines

Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the Philippines’ northeastern coast early today, its ferocious winds and blinding rain ripping off tin roof sheets and knocking out power, and plowed through the agricultural region at the start of the onslaught.

The typhoon made landfall before dawn in the coastal town of Baggao in Cagayan province on the northern tip of Luzon Island, a breadbasket of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces often hit by landslides. More than 5 million people were at risk from the storm, which the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorizes as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

There were no immediate reports of major damages or casualties in the region, where a massive evacuation from high-risk areas was carried out over two days.

Associated Press journalists in a hotel in Cagayan’s capital city of Tuguegarao saw tin roof sheets and other debris hurtle through the air and store signs crash to the ground.

With a huge raincloud band 560 miles wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon dumped intense rain that could set off landslides and flash floods. Storm warnings have been raised in almost all the provinces across the Luzon, including the capital, Manila, restricting sea and air travel.

A few hours after landfall, the eye of the typhoon was nearing the western coast of Luzon facing the South China Sea.

Before it hit land, Mangkhut packed sustained winds of 127 miles per hour and gusts of up to 158 mph, forecasters said. Even if the typhoon weakens slightly after slamming ashore, its winds will remain very destructive, government forecaster Rene Paciente said.

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