5 dead as Typhoon Mangkhut batters northern Philippines

At least five people died in Cordillera region when Typhoon Mangkhut (track of the typhoon pictured: Credit Pagasa Facebook) battered northern Philippines dumping rain and triggering landslides early on Saturday.

The first victims were two women who died when a portion of a hillside fell on them, said officials of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NRRMC). They did not reveal the names of the victims. A girl was drowned in flood waters and a security guard was crushed to death in wall collapse. A woman was swept out to sea.

NRRMC said the death toll is expected to rise as some 51 landslides have been reported in Cordillera region. Some foreign agencies put the death toll at 14.

Typhoon Mangkhut or Ompong, as it is locally known, made landfall in the main island of Luzon around 1.40am packing winds up to 270 kph toppling trees and power lines and ripping off roofs.

Several roads were closed in Luzon because of tree fall and flooding. Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said clearing operation is underway and some of the roads will be reopened in 24 hours.

NRRMC officials had feared the worst as Typhoon Mangkhut was 120 kph stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina a day earlier.

But officials had learnt some hard lessons after Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, hit the Philippines five years ago leaving more than 6,000 people dead.

This time, 105,000 people either fled or were evacuated from the largely rural, agricultural region. Some 13,413 people are in 724 evacuation centres set up in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Rescue teams are doing their best after the worst is over.

Typhoon Mangkhut has crossed over northern Philippines at night and the eye of the storm is now stretching over the South China Sea as it moves toward Hong Kong and southern China.

The storm is likely to gather speed as it approaches Hong Kong.