Super Typhoon Mangkhut claims first victims

Rescuers on the island of Luzon are ready for the super typhoon's arrival

In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, NASA satellite image, Super Typhoon Mangkhut churns west towards the Philippines.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut smashed through the Philippines on Saturday, as the biggest storm to hit the region this year claimed the lives of its first victims and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Super typhoon Mangkhut is approaching the Philippines with estimated 167 miles per hour winds and gusts to 200 miles per hour, threatening a devastating impact to the northern tip of the main island of Luzon when it makes landfall on Saturday.

On Saturday, it plowed into the Philippines, killing at least two people and flattening homes in small towns and villages on the northern island of Luzon.

Philippine authorities have said they are better prepared than in 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan devastated central areas of the country and killed 6,300 people.

More than 4 million people were declared at risk from the storm, and around 87,000 evacuated, with 105,000 are staying in temporary shelters, according to Reuters.

The storm will make its closest brush with Hong Kong around noon local time, side-swiping the densely populated city on its way to China's Guangdong province.

Mangkhut, named after a Thai fruit, weakened after hitting land, and now has maximum sustained winds of 213 kilometers per hour, according to the JTWC. Mangkhut is now a Cat 5 Typhoon packing winds of 285 kmph.

Many say Mangkhut brings back haunting memories of the last typhoon that hit the country.

Also a young girl was found in the Marikina River in the eastern part of metropolitan Manila, which appeared to avoid major damage.

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At daybreak in Cagayan's capital, Tuguegarao, Associated Press journalists saw a severely damaged public market, its roof ripped apart and wooden stalls and tarpaulin canopies in disarray.

The storm, which packs a 900km rain band and strong winds, is heading towards southern China.

Two rescue workers were killed while responding to landslides, and one woman in Taiwan was killed after being swept away by high water.

Many residents in Hong Kong and neighbouring Macau have stocked up on food and supplies.

Meteorologists have warned that the storm may have a "high humanitarian impact" based on the high wind speeds and the exposed population located in vulnerable areas.

"Representatives from relevant bureaus and departments also reported their preparatory work and contingency plans, particularly on measures in the prevention and handling of flooding, backflow of seawater and emergency plans for high-risk locations", a government statement read. One official said: "'you can't walk, you can't even crawl", when warning residents not to venture outside.

The Philippine budget airline Cebu Pacific, along with multiple Hong Kong airlines including Cathay Pacific, also announced flight changes.

Mangkhut could affect as many as 30.5 million people across Asia, according to the United Nations Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

Because communications and electricity were knocked out across much of the region where about five million people were in the typhoon's direct path, officials are still assessing the human and material cost.

National carrier Finnair announced Saturday afternoon that it had cancelled flights AY 101 and AY 099 scheduled to depart Helsinki for Hong Kong at 4.45pm and 11.45pm respectively.

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