MANILA, Philippines Philippine authorities began evacuating thousands of people Thursday from the path of the most powerful typhoon this year, closing schools, readying bulldozers for landslides and placing rescuers and troops on full alert in the country's north.
Typhoon Mangkhut, one day after it made landfall as the strongest storm to hit the the Philippines in five years, has killed at least 16 people, an official said Saturday. "His clear and concise marching order was 'Save lives, save lives, '" said Francis Tolentino, the government's disaster response coordinator and adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
More than 4 million people were declared at risk from the storm, and around 87,000 evacuated, with 105,000 are staying in temporary shelters, according to Reuters.
Typhoon Mangkhut will make another landfall on Sunday night in western Guangdong, China.
The Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season but the strength of Manghukt evoked memories of the deadliest storm on national record - Super Typhoon Haiyan - which killed more than 7000 in 2013.
Known locally as Ompong, Mangkhut is lashing the northern parts of Luzon Island as it heads west into the South China Sea and toward Hong Kong and southern China.
Officials said about 1,000 homes in the province had sustained damage.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said at least three people died and six others were missing in his mountain city of Baguio after strong winds and rain destroyed several houses and set off landslides, which also blocked roads to the popular vacation destination.
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Forecasters said this onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas. It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Its tropical storm-force winds extended 550 miles across, according to the country's weather agency, making it almost double the size of Florence, the hurricane-turned-tropical storm that made landfall over the southeastern United States on Friday.
In the northern town of Baggao, the storm collapsed houses, tore off roofs and downed power lines. "It has the strongest sustained wind (among the typhoons of this year)".
It is heading towards Hong Kong, where Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu warned residents it would be bringing "winds and rains of extraordinary speeds, scope and severity".
Mangkhut will keep to a northwesterly track, bringing heavy rain and winds when it enters the autonomous region of Guangxi early on Monday, before weakening into a tropical depression as it arrives in southwestern Yunnan on Tuesday.
He added: "Each department must have a sense of crisis, make a comprehensive assessment and plan, and prepare for the worst".
As of 1pm, Changi Airport's website showed that more than 30 flights by major airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and American Airlines, have been cancelled.
In Fujian province and elsewhere, tens of thousands of fishing boats returned to port and construction work came to a stop.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people.
10 hurricane signal, the top level warning, at 9:40 a.m. on Sunday, as typhoon Mangkhut hit Hong Kong after it has left at least 25 people dead in the Philippines. In Macau, Hato left nine people dead and caused extensive damage, spurring criticism that authorities were not well prepared and underestimated the storm's force.