Strongest typhoon this year closes in on north Philippines

Mangkhut is heading toward Hong

Mangkhut is heading toward Hong

Officials of the state weather bureau - Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) - said in a livestreamed press conference on September 12 that the typhoon is seen to reach a peak intensity of 220 to 270 kilometers per hour (kph). Its high winds and torrential rains could cause widespread damage to islands and coastal areas.

But the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) continued to categorize Mangkhut as a typhoon as of Tuesday afternoon.

Almost 43 million people in the south-east Asian region could be affected, according to United Nations' Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. At this stage 10 million people lie in the path of the major storm. With more than 111 million residents, the most populous province of China will embrace the super typhoon on Sunday before it is expected to downgrade to a severe tropical storm next Monday.

However, since the diameter of the typhoon measures at 900km wide, it is expected to affect and bring torrential rains and strong winds to the northern and most parts of Central Luzon.

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With powerful winds set to reach 278 kilometres per hour (172 miles per hour), Mangkhut is expected to hit the Philippines today before striking financial hub Hong Kong as well as southern China's Guangdong Province by the weekend.

PAGASA defines a super typhoon as a weather disturbance carrying more than 220 kilometers per hour (kph) of maximum center winds.

As of Wednesday, Typhoon Mangkhut was carrying maximum sustained winds of 205km/h and gusts of up to 255km/h, according to the Philippine weather bureau.

Multiple Hong Kong airlines, including flag carrier Cathay Pacific, have announced they will waive charges for rebooking or re-routing flights arriving or departing the city during the worst of the storm.

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The storm, which is the strongest to hit the Philippines this year, is also threatening farmlands in Luzon just before the rice and corn harvest.

This is more complicated because of possible storm surges, " Mamba said.

According to Hong Kong Observatory, Mangkhut will enter the South China Sea on Saturday.

It could be felt strongest in the provinces of Cagayan and Batanes with an intensity of 205 to 255 kph.

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