MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on Typhoon Mangkhut hitting the Philippines (all times local):
Philippine forecasters say Typhoon Mangkhut has slammed into the country’s northeastern coast. Witnesses say the storm’s ferocious wind and blinding rain ripped off tin roof sheets and knocked down power at the start of the onslaught.
Forecasters said early Saturday that the typhoon made landfall in the coastal town of Baggao in Cagayan province nearly two hours after midnight in the northern tip of the main Luzon island. It is an agricultural region of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces often hit by landslides.
More than 5 million people are 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.
Philippine authorities were evacuating thousands of people from the path of the most powerful typhoon this year, closing schools, readying bulldozers for landslides and placing rescuers and troops on full alert in the country’s north.
More than 4 million people live in areas at most risk from the storm, which the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii categorized as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.
Typhoon Mangkhut is on course to hit northeastern Cagayan province early Saturday. It was tracked on Friday about 400 kilometers (250 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph), Philippine forecasters said.
With a massive raincloud band 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods, the forecasters said. Storm warnings have been raised in 25 provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, restricting sea and air travel.