MANILA – Typhoon Mangkhut has claimed the lives of at least seven people and led to others going missing in the north of the Philippines, according to officials.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council confirmed Saturday that two emergency workers had been killed in landslides brought about by the strong rains lashing the northern Cordillera region.
At least five people died in the tourist resort of Baguio, which has been cut off by landslides, and five others were missing, Mayor Mauricio Domogan told local media.
Police said they found a girl’s body in the Marikana river in Metropolitan Manila and were working to establish whether she had died as a result of the typhoon.
The NDRRMC warned that the number of victims could go up as authorities grappled to confirm possible deaths and missing people in remote areas that were in some cases inaccessible.
The authorities are awaiting a more accurate account of the casualties and damage caused by the season’s most powerful typhoon as the areas that bore the brunt of the storm – locally known as Ompong – are hard-to-access areas in the northern part of Luzon Island.
After making landfall in Baggao in the north-eastern most tip of the country at 1.40 am on Saturday, Mangkhut caused wind gusts of up to 305 kph (190 mph), torrential rains, floods and waves of up to six meters (20 feet).
In its westward trajectory, the typhoon weakened slightly and left the Philippine’s territory around 10 am, heading towards Hong Kong with sustained winds of 170 kph and gusts of 260 kph.
The typhoon has left a trail of fallen trees and light poles, blocked roads and destroyed houses in its wake.
Over 50,000 people in all regions expected to be struck by the typhoon have been evacuated although over 5.2 million Filipinos living in a 125 kilometer radius from Mangkhut’s trajectory will feel its impact, according to the NDRRMC.
The NDRRMC has warned that Mangkhut’s devastating impact may be similar to that of Haiyan, a supertyphoon, which led to over 7,000 deaths and disappearances and affected 16 million in Nov. 2013.
Between 15-20 typhoons pass through the Philippines every year during the rainy season, which began this year on June 8.