Typhoon Mangkhut: Philippines counts cost of deadly typhoon


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Media captionFlash floods and landslides have led to fatalities in the Philippines

The Philippines is counting the human and economic cost of Typhoon Mangkhut, which ripped through its main island with deadly consequences on Saturday.

Officials say at least 14 people died but blocked roads and downed communications lines mean the true impact on rural areas is not yet clear.

Extensive crop damage is feared in the agricultural province of Cagayan.

The storm, which packs a 900km (550 mile) rain band and strong winds, is now heading towards southern China.

It made landfall at Baggao, in the north-east of the main Philippine island of Luzon, at about 01:40 local time on Saturday (17:40 GMT on Friday) and left some 20 hours later.

Originally a super typhoon billed as the strongest storm of 2018, it lost some of its strength on landfall.

Five million people were in its path and more than 100,000 sheltered in temporary centres.

How bad is the damage?

Almost all buildings in the city of Tuguegarao, Cagayan’s provincial capital, sustained damage, a government official said.

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Getty Images

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There are fears about damage to crops in the agricultural heartland of Cagayan

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AFP

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Dozens of landslides have been reported, amid large blockages caused by debris and fallen trees

Francis Tolentino, political adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte, told the BBC that there was also extensive crop damage in the agricultural heartland state.

He estimated only a fifth of produce there had been harvested in advance – threatening staples like rice and corn.

The Philippine Red Cross chairman, Richard Gordon, told the BBC on Saturday that the country was not yet safe of danger.

“After the winds come the rains, comes the water, so the next problems that we have to face are floods and access to these areas again,” he said.

BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, in the main island of Luzon, saw 200 people who had taken shelter in a school being re-evacuated because a swollen river threatening to burst.

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AFP

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Mangkhut was the 15th – and strongest – typhoon in the Philippines this year

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EPA

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Rescue centres, such as this one in Marikina City, were set up by the government in advance

The Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season but the strength of Manghukt evoked memories of the deadliest storm on national record – Super Typhoon Haiyan – which killed more than 7,000 in 2013.

However, preparation and evacuation procedures have been improved since then – warnings were issued, travel was restricted, schools shut and the army was put on standby in advance.

Where is the storm going now?

Mangkhut is still strong as it heads west toward southern China with current sustained wind speeds of 145km/h but fears it will re-strengthen into a super typhoon have receded.

It is forecast to pass Hong Kong – but not hit it directly – at noon local time (04:00 GMT).

Authorities there have upgraded their warning level to a signal nine – meaning residents should stay indoors to avoid any flying debris.

Antoine Li, a government official at an emergency centre in the fishing village of Tai O on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, said residents must not underestimate the storm.

“This typhoon will be very dangerous as it will arrive when everyone is sleeping and there is no way to leave so we have called on residents to leave the village before it gets dark,” he told Reuters news agency.

Most shops and public services are shut in Hong Kong, and more than 500 flights have been cancelled at its international airport – affecting almost 100,000 passengers.

Mangkut is expected to weaken into a tropical depression by Tuesday.

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AFP

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As the storm approaches, residents in Hong Kong have been advised to stay indoors

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