Full alert as massive super-storm nears Philippines

Workers transfer sacks of grain from a toppled truck from strong typhoon winds in Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines on September 16, 2018.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from Guangdong, where Mangkhut is due to strike later on Sunday.

Almost half a million people were evacuated from seven cities in Guangdong province, the gambling enclave of Macau closed down casinos for the first time and the Hong Kong Observatory told people to stay away from the Victoria Harbour, where storm surges battered the waterfront reinforced with sandbags.

Known locally as Ompong, Mangkhut ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees, blocked roads with debris and dumped water on fields of crops.

Resident Martin Wong said: "It's the worst I've seen".

The plans of tens of thousands of travellers were disrupted by flight cancellations at Hong Kong's worldwide airport, a major regional hub.

Philippine 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.

Tens of thousands of passengers were stranded in the city's global airport on Sunday, the airport authority said, with airlines including the city's flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, having already cancelled many flights.

"The suspension is for the safety of casino employees, visitors to the city, and residents", the government of the world's largest gambling hub said in a statement.

Macau has been cautious this time, with officials saying its hut casino gambling operations late on Saturday and China's People's Liberation Army on standby for any disaster relief assistance.

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More than 1,000 houses were impacted in Cagayan province, where the storm first made landfall, with authorities in the town of Baggao saying they had lost contact with an emergency response team, said Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Power to some areas could also be reduced as a precaution, say grid operators. In Shenzhen, electricity supply to more than 130,000 homes was cut at one point on Sunday. China sugar futures rose last week on fears for the cane crop.

Phone lines and communication in parts of the province have also been affected.

High winds and swells have also hit Fujian province north of Guangdong, causing ports to be shut, ferry services to be suspended, and more than 100 flights to be cancelled.

Flights via Shenzhen Airport were all cancelled on Sunday until 8 am Monday. Waves as high as 7.3 meters (24 ft) were sighted in the Taiwan Strait, Xinhua said.

As the storm heads for China's southern coast, Cathay Pacific airline said it expects more than 400 flight cancellations over the next three days.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut has slammed into the northern Philippines, bringing with it ferocious gale-force winds and pounding rains, as aid agencies warn millions are at risk from rising flood waters and landslides.

Whatever losses it creates for reinsurance and potentially ILS interests are expected to not be particularly significant, but the threat to lives and livelihoods of those in typhoon Mangkhut's path is severe and sadly its impacts are likely to be deadly.

Greg Browning, a tropical climatologist with Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, told news.com.au that Mangkhut was the planet's most powerful storm system to have developed this year.

  • Sonia Alvarado