11 July 2024

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine authorities evacuated more areas on Friday and warned an estimated 5.2 million people in the path of a “very destructive” typhoon to stay indoors, as the country braced for heavy rain and damage to infrastructure and crops.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut is expected to barrel through the northernmost tip of the Philippines Saturday morning, carrying 205 kph wind speeds, and gusts of up to 255 kph, that it has maintained since it struck Micronesia earlier in the week.

More than 9,000 people have been moved to temporary shelters as Mangkhut, locally known as Ompong, makes its way towards the rice- and corn-producing provinces of Cagayan and Isabela where it is forecast to make landfall overnight.

Disaster officials warned that tens of thousands more may need to be moved and weather forecasters warned of storm surges as high as six metres in coastal villages in the typhoon’s path.

Second and third contingents of rescue teams were being prepared, in case first-responders get into trouble themselves.

“My appeal is that we need to heed the advice of the authorities. Stay indoors,” said presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, the government’s disaster response coordinator.

The storm further picked up speed and was about 340 km east of the Philippines late afternoon on Friday. Video posted on social media by Cagayan residents showed trees being whipped by fierce winds under dark grey skies as rain lashed down on buildings.

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said he expects widespread damage to crops and infrastructure in his province, and said help would be needed to rebuild.

“Last time we had a super typhoon, there were 14,000-plus of totally destroyed houses and about 40,000-plus of partially destroyed houses,” he told news channel ANC.

“We expect this kind of damage with a super typhoon like this and so we would ask the assistance of the national government and even the private sector.”