Super Typhoon Mangkhut Slams Into China

September 16, 2018Updated: September 16, 2018

HONG KONG/MANILA—A super typhoon made landfall in China’s Guangdong Province on Sept. 16, the country’s most populous province, after wreaking havoc in Hong Kong and Macau and killing at least 29 people in the Philippines.

Packing gale force winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph), tropical cyclone Mangkhut is considered the strongest to hit the region this year, equivalent to a maximum Category 5 “intense hurricane” in the Atlantic.

The eye of Mangkhut, the Thai name for Southeast Asia’s mangosteen fruit, skirted 100 km (62 miles) south of Hong Kong but the former British colony was still caught in the typhoon’s swirling bands of rain and gale-force winds.

Hong Kong raised its highest No. 10 typhoon signal at mid-morning as ferocious winds uprooted trees and smashed windows in office and residential buildings, some of which swayed in the gusts, residents said.

“It swayed for quite a long time, at least two hours. It made me feel so dizzy,” said Elaine Wong, who lives in a high-rise tower in the Kowloon district.

Water levels surged 3.5 m (12 ft) in some places, waves swamped roads and washed up live fish, washing into some residential blocks and a mall in an eastern district.

Epoch Times Photo
High waves hit the shore at Heng Fa Chuen, a residental district near the waterfront, as Typhoon Mangkhut slams Hong Kong on September 16, 2018. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” resident Martin Wong told Reuters. “I’ve not seen the roads flood like this, (and) the windows shake like this before.”

Tens of thousands of travelers’ plans were disrupted by flight cancellations at Hong Kong’s international airport, a major regional hub. Airlines such as flagship carrier Cathay Pacific canceled many flights last week.

Philippine authorities said a baby and a toddler were among the 29 dead, most of them in landslides in mountainous areas that left at least 13 missing.

“The landslides happened as some residents returned to their homes after the typhoon,” disaster response coordinator Francis Tolentino told DZMM Radio, adding that most of the 5.7 million people affected had made advance preparations.

In Macau, which halted casino gambling late on Sept. 15 and put China’s military on standby for disaster relief help, some streets were flooded.

“The suspension is for the safety of casino employees, visitors to the city, and residents,” said authorities in the world’s largest gambling hub, who faced criticism last year after a typhoon that killed nine and caused severe damage.

‘King of Storms’

The typhoon, dubbed the “King of Storms” by Chinese media, made landfall in Haiyan town, Guangdong Province, at 5:00 p.m. local time, packing winds of more than 160 kph (100 mph), weather officials said.

Ports, oil refineries, and industrial plants in the area have been shut. Power to some areas were also reduced as a precaution. In nearby Shenzhen City, electricity supply to more than 130,000 homes was cut at one point on Sept. 16.

The storm has fueled concern about sugar production in Guangdong, which accounts for a tenth of national output, at about 1 million tons. China sugar futures rose last week on fears for the cane crop.

Guangdong is also China’s most populous province, with a population of more than 100 million.

The airport in Shenzhen has been shut since midnight, and will be closed until 8:00 a.m. (2400 GMT) on Sept. 17. Flights have been canceled in Guangzhou and the neighboring island province of Hainan.

High winds and swells have also hit Fujian Province north of Guangdong, shutting ports, suspending ferry services, and canceling more than 100 flights. Waves as high as 7.3 meters (24 feet) were sighted in the Taiwan Strait, according to China’s state-run media Xinhua.

Mangkhut’s northwesterly track will bring heavy rain and winds to the region of Guangxi early on Sept. 17, before it weakens into a tropical depression to reach southwestern Yunnan Province the next day.

By James Pomfret and Enrico Dela Cruz