Published on : Thursday, September 13, 2018
According to Chinese state media, already around 12,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying parts of China’s Guangdong province and shipping halted ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Barijat Thursday.
However, the real concern is Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which is still gathering strength as it nears northern Philippines.
The storm is expected to make landfall on Luzon Island Saturday. Current wind speeds are up to 285 km per hour (180 mph), equivalent to a Category 5 Hurricane and stronger than Hurricane Florence which is currently lashing the US East Coast.
“All things being equal, Mangkhut is a bigger, stronger and more dangerous storm” than Florence, said CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller. “Any land hit directly would see more significant and destructive impacts from the Super Typhoon due to its size and intensity.”
Mangkhut has already torn through Guam and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, causing widespread flooding and power loss, with parts of Guam still without electricity Thursday morning.
Sixteen provinces across Luzon and the Visayas Islands have issued tropical cyclone warnings for Mangkhut — known as Ompong locally — with the threat level expected to rise.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will hold a meeting Thursday of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as the government considers extra emergency procedures ahead of the storm.
Mangkhut is currently on track to be as strong as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 6,000 people dead in the Philippines in 2013, though that storm hit a more populated part of the country.
Northern Luzon was also devastated in 2016 by Super Typhoon Haima — known as Lawin locally — with 14,000 houses destroyed and 50,000 homes damaged.
The Red Cross said it had put teams on the highest level of alert across the island, warning that high winds and torrential rains could cause widespread damage to islands and coastal areas of Luzon.
“We’re worried for the 10 million people in the Philippines living in the path of this destructive storm, including those who have been displaced several times due to the monsoon rains last July and August,” Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippines Red Cross, said in a statement. “We are preparing our emergency assets and relief items. Our staff and volunteers are on high alert for possible deployment.”