Typhoon Mangkhut intensifies as it nears PHL, exit forecast is Sunday

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Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said by telephone that northern coastal and island villages in the typhoon's projected path will begin evacuating residents on Thursday ahead of the expected onslaught.

Meanwhile Super Typhoon Mangkhut is on track to swipe the northern Philippines and then heads on towards Hong Kong.

Red Cross teams have been placed at the highest level of alert as communities in Northern Luzon in the Philippines brace for Typhoon Mangkhut (known locally as Ompong).

Forecasters said typhoon Mangkhut could hit northeastern Cagayan province on Saturday.

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

Schools and offices are being closed and farmers are racing to save crops.

Typhoon Mangkhut is expected to bring heavy rains and flooding along the northern coastal provinces of Cagayan and Batanes. The U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts top winds of 135 knots (155 miles per hour) with maximum gusts of 165 knots in the next three days.

President Rodrigo Duterte adjusted his schedule on Thursday so he can lead the command conference on the government's preparation for Typhoon Ompong.

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Typhoon Mangkhut has already hit Guam resulting in flooding of streets, uprooting of trees as well as widespread power outages. The Philippines has been trying to cope with rice shortages. In the province of Benguet and Kalinga, at least 136 people have been evacuated, according to the civil defence office. Government agencies were conducting damage assessments and clearing roads, according to the Pacific Daily News.

"The weather here is still good but we're moving them now because it's very important that when it comes, people will be away from peril, " Mr Mamba said. About 80 per cent of the USA territory was without power but it was restored by Thursday morning.

The storm's current path has it passing through the Luzon Strait between the Philippines and southern Taiwan, before continuing on to Hong Kong and Macau.

In disaster-prone Philippines where about 20 cyclones pass each year, Mangkhut, which is named after a fruit in Thailand, is forecast to enter on Wednesday just as another storm left.

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The storm approaches the Phillipines as hurricane Florence will make landfall on the south-east coast of the USA later this week.