Typhoon Mangkhut hit the Philippines with gale force winds of 200 kph, unleashing widespread devastation in which at least 69 people have been killed so far.

High waves hit the shore at Heng Fa Chuen, a residental district near the waterfront, as Typhoon Mangkhut slams Hong Kong, China September 16, 2018.
High waves hit the shore at Heng Fa Chuen, a residental district near the waterfront, as Typhoon Mangkhut slams Hong Kong, China September 16, 2018. ( Reuters )

A super typhoon made landfall in China's Guangdong on Sunday, the country's most populous province, after wreaking havoc in Hong Kong and Macau and killing at least 69 people in the Philippines, with two additional deaths reported in China. 

Packing gale force winds of more than 200 kph, tropical cyclone Mangkhut is considered the strongest to hit the region this year, equivalent to a maximum Category 5 "intense hurricane" in the Atlantic.

The eye of Mangkhut, the Thai name for Southeast Asia's mangosteen fruit, skirted 100 km south of Hong Kong but the former British colony was still caught in the typhoon's swirling bands of rain and gale-force winds.

Buried in mud

Typhoon Mangkhut lashed the Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain that caused landslides feared to have buried dozens. 

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.

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.

TRT World's Arabella Munro has more. 

Philippine death toll feared to rise

In the Philippines, casualties reported by various agencies on Sunday evening indicate the death toll from the impact of Mangkhut could exceed 50, with most killed in landslides in or near mountainous areas of the Cordillera region.

Francis Tolentino, an advisor to President Rodrigo Duterte and head of the government's disaster coordination, said the latest number of casualties was 33 dead and 56 missing.

TRT World's Natasha Hussain reports.

But the head of the military's Northern Luzon Command, Emmanuel Salamat, told Reuters that at least 19 more were killed in landslides in one part of Benguet province.

The 19 who died were part of a bigger group of 43 people, likely miners, and those who were still alive were feared to be trapped in an old mining bunkhouse that had collapsed under rubble, according to Tolentino.

Search and rescue missions were ongoing, and a local mayor in Benguet, Victorio Palangdan, said he feared the number killed there could be more than 100.

Separately, the coastguard said it had recovered the bodies of three people.

In Macau, which halted casino gambling late on Saturday and put China's People's Liberation Army on standby for disaster relief help, some streets were flooded.

"The suspension is for the safety of casino employees, visitors to the city, and residents," said authorities in the world's largest gambling hub, who faced criticism last year after a typhoon that killed nine and caused severe damage.

Earlier, TRT World spoke to Hong Kong-based journalist Patrick Fok for more details.

"King of storms"

The typhoon, dubbed the "King of Storms" by Chinese media, made landfall in Haiyan town at 5:00 pm. local time, packing winds of more than 160 kph (100 mph), weather officials said.

Ports, oil refineries and industrial plants in the area have been shut. Power to some areas were also reduced as a precaution. In Shenzhen, electricity supply to more than 130,000 homes was cut at one point on Sunday.

The storm has fuelled concern about sugar production in Guangdong, which accounts for a tenth of national output, at about 1 million tonnes. China sugar futures rose last week on fears for the cane crop.

Guangdong is also China's most populous province, with a population of more than 100 million.

The airport in the boomtown of Shenzhen has been shut since midnight, and will be closed until 8:00 am. (2400 GMT) on Monday. Flights have been cancelled in Guangzhou and the neighbouring island province of Hainan.

High winds and swells have also hit Fujian province north of Guangdong, shutting ports, suspending ferry services and cancelling more than 100 flights. Waves as high as 7.3 metres (24 ft) were sighted in the Taiwan Strait, Xinhua said.

Mangkhut's northwesterly track will bring heavy rain and winds to the autonomous region of Guangxi early on Monday, before it weakens into a tropical depression to reach southwestern Yunnan next day.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies