Manila, Sep 15: At least three people died and four others were injured as typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the Philippines on Saturday, bringing ferocious gale-force winds and pounding rains, officials said.
The Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said two emergency responders died in a landslide in the Cordillera Administrative Region of Luzon Island and another girl apparently drowned in Marikina river in Metro Manila, Xinhua news agency reported.
Mangkhut, the strongest storm anywhere on the planet in 2018, made landfall in Cagayan province, on the northern tip of Luzon Island at about 1.40 a.m. (local time), with gusts as high as 325 km per hour.
After the centre of the storm passed the Philippines, Mangkhut's winds slowed enough for the typhoon to lose its "super" status, but it remained a very powerful storm system with maximum sustained winds of 215 kph, equivalent to a category 4 hurricane.
After ripping through Luzon, the typhoon headed west into the South China Sea towards Hong Kong and southern China.
Almost all buildings in the Philippines' Tuguegarao city sustained damage. Strong winds pulled off entire roofs and threw large chunks of debris into the air. Communications were down in places, said officials.
Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon, a vital transportation hub, was also damaged, potentially complicating efforts to bring in humanitarian aid, CNN reported.
The Philippines military sent two C-130 airplanes and 10 helicopters to Cagayan province for typhoon relief and rescue efforts, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was cited as saying by Philippines News Agency.
An estimated 5.2 million people in the Philippines were within 125 km of the projected path of the typhoon, the NDRRMC said earlier. Thousands were evacuated amid warnings.
The scale of the typhoon could be felt in the Philippines capital Manila, more than 340 km from the eye of the storm, where heavy overnight rains led to widespread flooding in urban areas.
Authorities in Hong Kong urged residents to stay indoors. Weather experts said it may be the strongest tropical storm to hit the territory in decades. In nearby Macau, shops were boarded up and residents were sticking tape on their windows.
The NDRRMC warned that Mangkhut's devastating impact may be similar to that of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which led to over 7,000 deaths, disappearances and affected 16 million in November 2013.
Between 15 and 20 typhoons pass through the Philippines every year during the rainy season, which began this year on June 8.