Millions at risk as Philippines braces for Typhoon Mangkhut

MANILA (AFP) – Millions of people are at risk from a strong typhoon set to smash into the northern Philippines this weekend which could bring floods, landslides and huge waves to the disaster-prone nation, rescue workers said yesterday.

Emergency workers have been deployed in the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where Typhoon Mangkhut is expected to make landfall on Saturday.

It is currently barrelling across the Pacific with gusts of 255 kilometres per hour.

“We’re worried for the 10 million people in the Philippines living in the path of this destructive storm,” said Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross Richard Gordon.

The state weather service said Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon this year, peaking at gusts of up to 270 kilometres an hour today before easing to still-dangerous velocities as it approaches land.

The Philippine Red Cross estimates three million Filipinos live in the direct path of Mangkhut, Communications Officer Mary Joy Evalarosa told AFP.

She said seven million others are at risk in the country, with the typhoon expected to boost the intensity of seasonal monsoon rains that have already caused widespread flooding in central Luzon, a mainly farming region north of capital Manila.

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.