Typhoon Mangkhut has slammed into the northern Philippines, unleashing ferocious winds and blinding rain in a region where authorities have been rushing to evacuate tens of thousands of people from high-risk areas.
The Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season.
In the latest National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council briefing, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said the Tuguegarao airport is closed due to the typhoon's effects.
A super typhoon packing winds of more than 125 miles per hour tore across the northern tip of the Philippines on Saturday, bringing heavy rain and causing widespread power and communications outages.
Storm surges of up to 7m are expected to hit coastal areas, it said, while heavy rains could trigger landslides and flash floods.
Super typhoon Mangkhut barreled into the northern Philippines early Saturday morning, with the eye of the storm passing over the island of Luzon.
Businesses and residents on Luzon, an island home to millions, were making last-minute preparations as forecasters warned of wind gusts as high as 255 kilometers per hour. They said the fast-moving typhoon has gained speed as it moves northwestward at 19 miles per hour.
Government forecaster Rene Paciente warned that the storm "can lift cars".
It is expected to strike the nation later in the night itself over the extreme northern parts of Philippines, possibly over Luzon.
The super typhoon's track could cause US$120 billion (S$165 billion) worth of damage, Bloomberg reported.
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Mangkhutis expected to cause widespread damage to infrastructure, agriculture and livelihoods within its 900-kilometer diameter, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said in a statement Friday.
Ninia Grace Abedes abandoned her bamboo hut and took her four children to a school building serving as an emergency shelter.
"We are expecting the weather to improve, except for some portions that will have some intermittent rainfall, particularly the western sections of the country", Cayanan said, speaking Filipino.
Authorities were also checking what happened to about 70 men who reportedly returned to their coastal village to check on their homes during unsafe storm surges that brought walls of seawater whipping inland.
All flights will be cancelled between 2.30am on Sunday and 4am on Monday, while a small number of flights will have their scheduled departure times delayed until Monday.
Ompong continues to pack maximum sustained winds of 170 kph and gusts of up to 260 kph.
Volunteers also helped residents of low-lying Hong Kong fishing village Tai O hoist their furniture and appliances to higher ground.
The gambling enclave of Macau, near Hong Kong, suffered catastrophic flooding during Typhoon Hato last August that left 10 dead and led to accusations of corruption and incompetence at its meteorological office.
Rogelio Sending, a government official in Cagayan, where the storm first made landfall, said there were province-wide power and communication outages and reports of uprooted trees blocking roads. A second storm, Typhoon Barijat, has also hit the region.
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