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Typhoon kills 64, buries dozens

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More than 2.4 million people had been evacuated from Guangdong province

People clean up debris caused by Typhoon Mangkhut outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. Hong Kong and southern China hunkered down as strong winds and heavy rain from Typhoon Mangkhut lash the densely populated coast.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Typhoon Mangkhut barrelled into southern China yesterday after lashing the northern Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain that left at least 64 people dead and dozens feared buried in a landslide.

More than 2.4 million people had been evacuated from Guangdong province by yesterday evening and nearly 50000 fishing boats were called back to port, state media reported.

The storm made landfall in the Guangdong city of Taishan at 5pm, packing wind speeds of 16km/* .

Authorities in southern China issued a red alert, the most severe warning, as the national meteorological centre said the densely populated region would face a “severe test caused by wind and rain” and urged officials to prepare for possible disasters.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled. All high-speed and some normal rail services in Guangdong and Hainan provinces were also halted, the China Railway Guangzhou Group Co said.

In Hong Kong, a video posted online by residents showed the top corner of an old building break and fall off, while in another video a tall building swayed as strong winds blew. The storm also broke windows, felled trees, tore bamboo scaffolding off buildings under construction and flooded areas with sometimes waist-high waters, reported the South China Morning Post. The paper said the heavy rains brought storm surges of 3 metres around Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu urged residents to prepare for the worst. “Because Mangkhut will bring winds and rains of extraordinary speeds, scope and severity, our preparation and response efforts will be greater than in the past. Each department must have a sense of crisis, make a comprehensive assessment and plan and prepare for the worst.”

Dozens of people, mostly small-scale miners and their families, were feared to have been trapped by a landslide in the far-flung village of Ucab in Itogon town in the northern Philippines’ Benguet province, Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said.

Police Superintendent Pelita Tacio said 34 villagers had died and 36 remained missing in the landslides in Ucab and another village in Itogon town. Rescuers were scrambling to pull out the body of a victim from the mound of mud and rocks in Ucab before he left the area yesterday. “It’s very sad. I could hear villagers wailing in their homes near the site of the accident,” he said.

Rescuers were hampered by rain and mud so the search-and-rescue operation was suspended at nightfall and will resume at daybreak today, Palangdan said.

Police and their vehicles could not immediately reach the landside-hit area because the ground was unstable and soaked from the heavy rains, regional police chief Rolando Nana told the ABS-CBN TV network.

At least 64 people have died in the northern Philippines, mostly from landslides and collapsed houses, said the national police. Forty-five people were missing and 33 were injured in the storm.

The hardest-hit province was Benguet, where 38 people died, mostly in two landslides, and 37 are missing, the police said. AP