Thu, 18 Oct 2018
21
Hong Kong

Typhoon Mangkhut barreled into southern China after lashing the Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain that caused landslides feared to have buried dozens.

More than 2.4 million people had been evacuated in southern China's Guangdong province by Sunday evening to flee the typhoon, state media said. "Prepare for the worst," Hong Kong Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu urged residents.

That warning followed Mangkhut's devastating march through the northern Philippines on Saturday with sustained winds of 205km/h. National police said 64 people had died there as of Sunday, mostly due to landslides and collapsed houses, with two additional deaths reported in China.

Landslides caused by the pounding storm hit two villages in Itogon town in the Philippine mountain province of Benguet. Police Superintendent Pelita Tacio said 34 villagers had died and 36 were missing.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan told The Associated Press by phone that at the height of the typhoon's onslaught on Saturday afternoon, dozens of people, mostly miners and their families, rushed into an old three-story building in the village of Ucab.

The building - a former mining bunkhouse that had been transformed into a chapel - was obliterated when part of a mountain slope collapsed. Three villagers who managed to escape told authorities what happened.

"They thought they were really safe there," the mayor said on Sunday. He expressed sadness that the villagers, many of them poor, had few options to survive in a region where big corporations have profited immensely from gold mines.

The rescue work halted for the night before resuming Monday morning. Men used pikes and shovels to dig into the mud since the soaked ground was unstable and limited the use of heavy equipment on site.

The typhoon was occurring as tropical weather also was devastating the southern US. Florence has dumped historical levels of rain on North Carolina.

Mangkhut made landfall in the Guangdong city of Taishan at 17:00 on Sunday, packing wind speeds of 162km/h. State television broadcaster CGTN reported that surging waves flooded a seaside hotel in the city of Shenzhen.

The storm shattered glass windows on commercial skyscrapers in Hong Kong, sending sheets of paper pouring out of the buildings, fluttering and spiralling as they headed for the debris-strewn ground, according to videos on social media.

Mangkhut also felled trees, tore scaffolding off buildings under construction and flooded some areas of Hong Kong with waist-high waters, according to the South China Morning Post.

Casinos on Macau were ordered closed for the first time due to the typhoon. A red alert, the most severe warning, was issued for densely populated southern China, which the national meteorological center said would face a "severe test caused by wind and rain".

Flights over the weekend and into Monday were cancelled in Hong Kong and the mainland cities of Shenzhen, Haikou, Sanya, Guangzhou and Zhuhai. All high-speed and some normal rail services in Guangdong and Hainan provinces were also halted, the China Railway Guangzhou Group Co. said.

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