HONG KONG/MANILA (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 29 people in the Philippines.
Packing gale force winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph), 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 (62 miles) south of Hong Kong but the former British colony was still caught in the typhoon’s swirling bands of rain and gale-force winds.
Hong Kong raised its highest No. 10 typhoon signal at mid-morning as ferocious winds uprooted trees and smashed windows in office and residential buildings, some of which swayed in the gusts, residents said.
“It swayed for quite a long time, at least two hours. It made me feel so dizzy,” said Elaine Wong, who lives in a high-rise tower in Kowloon.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” resident Martin Wong told Reuters. “I’ve not seen the roads flood like this, (and) the windows shake like this, before.”
The plans of tens of thousands of travelers were disrupted by flight cancellations at Hong Kong’s international airport, a major regional hub. Airlines such as flagship carrier Cathay Pacific canceled many flights last week.
Philippine authorities said a baby and a toddler were among the 29 dead, most of them in landslides in mountainous areas that left at least 13 missing.
“The landslides happened as some residents returned to their homes after the typhoon,” disaster response coordinator Francis Tolentino told DZMM Radio, adding that most of the 5.7 million people affected had made advance preparations.
“It was not so severe as we expected it to be because earlier it was noted it would also be strong,” said President Rodrigo Duterte, following an aerial survey of some affected areas.
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.
China has ordered thousands of boats to return to harbor, and evacuated thousands of offshore oil platform workers, the state news agency, Xinhua, said.