Updated September 15, 2018 22:37:36
Southern China is bracing for Typhoon Mangkhut, which has pummelled the northern Philippines killing 12 people and causing floods, landslides and power outages.
It entered the Philippines as a super typhoon in the early hours, sending winds and rains across the entire main island of Luzon, home to about half the country's 105 million people.
An official said Typhoon Mangkhut has left at least 12 people dead in the northern Philippines, mostly in landslides and houses that got pummelled by the storm's fierce winds and rain.
Presidential adviser Francis Tolentino said the dead included an infant and another child who were among four people killed in a landslide in Nueva Vizcaya, one of several provinces battered by the typhoon on Saturday.
Mr Tolentino said that at least two other people are missing and that the death toll could climb to 16 once other casualty reports are verified.
Known locally as Ompong, Typhoon Mangkhut at one point had maximum gusts of 305 kilometres per hour before it exited the land area before noon, and moved towards southern China and Vietnam with reduced wind speeds of 170 kilometres per hour.
Two rescue workers were killed while trying to free people trapped in a landslide in the mountainous Cordillera region, Ricardo Jalad, head of the nation's disaster agency, said.
No further details were provided. Police also said a body had been found in a river in Manila.
Philippine state weather agency PAGASA downgraded the domestic threat level, but warned the danger was far from over, with continued storm surges and heavy rains that could trigger floods and more landslides.
"We are asking the people to remain alert and continue taking precautions," said PAGASA meteorologist Rene Paciente.
The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre has downgraded Mangkhut from a super typhoon to the equivalent of a category 4 hurricane.
Rapid response teams were on standby with the air force for search and rescue missions as authorities undertook damage assessments in areas in the path of the storm, which felled trees, electricity poles and tore off shop signs and sheet metal roofs hundreds of kilometres away.
There was flooding in several provinces and parts of the capital Manila. Authorities were preparing to release water from several dams, fearing constant rains could push reservoirs to dangerously high levels.
Mangkhut had been a category five storm for days since wreaking havoc in US Pacific territories of Micronesia before edging towards the Philippines, where it is the 15th and strongest storm this year.
The typhoon's peak winds were stronger than those of Hurricane Florence, which killed five people in the United States after it piled into the Carolinas knocking down trees, and gorging rivers and causing major power outages before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Storm warnings have been raised in almost all the provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, restricting sea and air travel.
After the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts Mangkhut will plough into the Chinese mainland early Monday local time south of Hong Kong and north of the island province of Hainan. Though it is likely to weaken from a super typhoon to a severe typhoon, it will still be packing sustained winds of 175kph, it said.
The observatory warned of rough seas and frequent heavy squalls, urging residents of the densely populated financial hub to "take suitable precautions and pay close attention to the latest information" on the storm.
The gambling enclave of Macau, near Hong Kong, suffered catastrophic flooding during Typhoon Hato last August that left 10 dead and led to accusations of corruption and incompetence at its meteorological office.
China's National Meteorological Centre issued an alert saying Mangkhut would make landfall somewhere on the coast in Guangdong province on Sunday afternoon or night, packing strong winds and heavy rains.
In Fujian province 51,000 people were evacuated from fishing boats and about 11,000 vessels returned to port on Saturday morning.
Philippine forecasters said the shifting typhoon could possibly blow toward Vietnam after it exits late Saturday or early Sunday.
In an emergency meeting Thursday (local time), President Rodrigo Duterte asked Cabinet officials from the north to help oversee disaster-response work and told reporters it was too early to consider seeking foreign aid.
"It would depend on the severity of the crisis," Mr Duterte said.
"If it flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help."
Mangkhut, the Thai word for mangosteen fruit, is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.
Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened entire villages, swept several ships inland and displaced over 5 million in the central Philippines in 2013.
First posted September 15, 2018 06:47:47