Typhoon Mangkhut intensifies as it nears PHL, exit forecast is Sunday

Typhoon Mangkhut intensifies as it nears PHL, exit forecast is Sunday

Super Typhoon Mangkhut, known as Super Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines, is now equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane, with winds of at least 252 kilometers per hour (157 mph), stronger than Florence, which is expected to cause massive flooding and devastation in the Carolinas.

The typhoon may traverse the Cagayan-Batanes area on Saturday and is expected to make a landfall at the northern tip of Cagayan on Saturday morning.

On Guam, where Mangkhut has passed, residents woke up Tuesday to flooded streets, downed trees and widespread power outages.

"Even further strengthening is expected with Mangkhut as it moves westward toward land", said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty, adding, "If sustained wind speeds of 220 km/h are reached, Mangkhut will not only be a super typhoon, but also equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific".

Authorities said some 10 million people in the Philippines are in the storm's path, not including millions more in heavily-populated coastal China.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System said in total up to 43.3 million people could be affected by the storm in the Philippines and southern China.

Leung Wing-mo from the Hong Kong Meteorological Society told HKFP that given the strength of the super typhoon, it is likely to adversely affect Hong Kong if it continues on its trajectory towards Guangdong: "It is a very strong typhoon".

Governor Manuel Mamba of the Philippines island of Cagayan said officials would start evacuating islanders on Thursday. He said classes would be suspended and offices, except those involved in rescue and relief work, had been advised to close on Friday. About 80 per cent of the U.S. territory was without power but it was restored by Thursday morning.

Luzon was devastated by Super Typhoon Haima - known as Lawin locally - in 2016, with 14,000 houses destroyed and 50,000 homes damaged, according to CNN Philippines. The Philippines has been trying to cope with rice shortages.

President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled his Thursday plan to board a navy ship in Bataan in central Luzon to conduct a missile test.

Mangkhut is expected to be as strong as Haiyan - a super typhoon that killed more than 6,200 people in the Philippines in 2013.

Meanwhile, the US east coast braces as Hurricane Florence barrels towards the Carolinas, expected to make landfall late September 14 or early September 15.