Typhoon Mangkhut: Millions at risk as cyclone hurtles towards Philippines

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Super Typhoon Mangkhut, known as Super Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines, is now equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane, with winds of at least 252 kilometers per hour (157 mph), stronger than Florence, which is expected to cause massive flooding and devastation in the Carolinas.

The state weather service said Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon this year, peaking at gusts of up to 270 kilometres an hour on Thursday before easing to still-dangerous velocities as it approaches land.

It is packing maximum sustained winds of 170 kms per hour near the center, gusts of 210 kph, and moves west slowly at 25 kph.

"We're anxious 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".

Forecasters said Typhoon Mangkhut could hit northern Cagayan province on Saturday.

"I worry especially for houses made of light materials", said Marilou Cayco, governor of Batanes, a chain of seven remote islands 240 km (149 miles) off the mainland where she said up to 3,000 families could be "battered".

The typhoon was slightly changing its track, Mamba said, adding that authorities needed to rapidly reassess where to redeploy emergency teams and supplies. "If it flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help".

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The typhoon is arriving at the start of the rice and corn harvest season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, and farmers were scrambling to save what they could of their crops, Mamba said.

President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled his Thursday plan to board a navy ship in Bataan in central Luzon to conduct a missile test.

Mangkhut, locally known as super typhoon Ompong, has already passed the USA territory of Guam, where it caused widespread flooding and power outages. Government agencies were conducting damage assessments and beginning to clear roads, according to the Pacific Daily News.

Office of Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said other northern provinces will also start evacuating residents from low-lying areas on Thursday.

About 80% of the U.S. territory was without power but it was restored by Thursday morning.

In disaster-prone Philippines where about 20 cyclones pass each year, Mangkhut, which is named after a fruit in Thailand, is forecast to enter on Wednesday just as another storm left. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people in the Philippines.

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