Full alert as massive super-storm nears Philippines

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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.

Super typhoon Mangkhut is approaching the Philippines with estimated 167 miles per hour winds and gusts to 200 miles per hour, threatening a devastating impact to the northern tip of the main island of Luzon when it makes landfall on Saturday.

More than four million people live in areas at most risk from the storm, which the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii categorised as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

Among the dead were an infant and a two-year-old child who died with their parents after the couple refused to immediately evacuate from their high-risk community in a mountain town in Nueva Vizcaya province, Tolentino said.

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

Typhoon Mangkhut is on course to hit north-eastern Cagayan province early on Saturday.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut - the biggest storm of the year - smashed through the Philippines on Saturday, claiming its first victims as two women were killed when a rain-drench hillside collapsed on them and another drowned in Taiwan.

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Bebeth Saquing has seen dozens of storms in her lifetime, but nothing prepared her for the terror of Super Typhoon Mangkhut as it roared over her Philippines home Saturday packing winds of more than 250 kilometres (155 miles) per hour.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte held a meeting Thursday of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), where it was chose to put in place extra emergency procedures ahead of the storm.

In all, almost 37 million people are estimated to be in Mangkhut's path. GDACS estimates that the typhoon will have a "high humanitarian impact" based on the high wind speeds and the exposed population located in vulnerable areas.

People take shelter in Cagayan, where the storm was projected to make its initial landfall.

"We really learned a lot from the Haiyan experience", Catherine Cabarles, a school teacher in Quezon City, told NPR before Mangkhut arrived.

The typhoon is approaching at the start of the rice and corn harvesting season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, and farmers were scrambling to save what they could of their crops, Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said.

Mangkhut caused blackouts and left hundreds homeless when it struck U.S. Pacific territories in Micronesia earlier.

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In Cagayan's capital city of Tuguegarao, heavy rain and strong winds lashed buildings, pulling off signage and throwing debris into the air.

The Philippines Red Cross said it had activated 30,000 volunteers across Luzon to prepare for the impact of the storm and dispatched a "humanitarian caravan" consisting of rescue and relief vehicles to the parts of the island expected to be among the worst affected.

Mangkhut is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.

After losing some of its wind speed over land as it headed west, the storm was downgraded from a super typhoon.

Cathay Pacific airline said it expected more than 400 flight cancellations over the next three days.

The South China Morning Post on Wednesday reported that the system could turn out to be stronger than any of the 15 typhoons that have been given Hong Kong's highest warning signal and looked set to be one of the strongest to ever hit Southeast Asia.

Officials in Hong Kong held emergency meetings Wednesday in which all departments were warned to have "their deployment and emergency response plans ready for the possible threats".

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