Typhoon Mangkhut in Philippines might be as harsh as Haiyan, authorities warn

Typhoon Mangkhut in Philippines might be as harsh as Haiyan, authorities warn 

A handout photo made available by NASA on Sep. 12, 2018 shows a satellite image acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP of Super Typhoon Mangkhut approaching Philippines, Sep. 11, 2018. EPA-EFE/NASA HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Manila, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- The impact of the Category-5 typhoon Mangkhut, which is currently moving towards the Philippines, could be as devastating as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which caused over 6,000 deaths and affected 14 million others in 2013, Philippine emergency services warned Thursday.

«The government units are preparing for the worst case scenario,» said Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), at a press conference Wednesday night.

Philippine authorities have deployed emergency services personnel in northern areas of Luzon Island, the northernmost region of the country, where Mangkhut is expected to make landfall on Saturday morning.

The center of Mangkhut, also known as Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines, was 725 kilometers from the coast of Luzon on Thursday at 10.00 local time (2.00 GMT), with sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour and gusts of 255 kilometers per hour, according to the latest newsletter of the meteorological agency PAGASA.

If its sustained winds exceed 220 kilometers per hour, Typhoon Mangkhut – expected to be the most powerful storm to hit the Philippines this year – will be re-categorized as a super typhoon like Haiyan.

The Red Cross, which has mobilized its emergency equipment in the north of the country, warned that there are about 10 million people living in areas where the typhoon is expected to pass.

«We are concerned about the 10 million people who live in the path of this destructive storm, including those who have been displaced several times due to the monsoon rains of July and August,» Richard Gordon, chairman of the Red Cross in the Philippines, said in a statement.

The strong winds and torrential rains of Mangkhut are expected to cause floods, landslides and giant waves throughout the island of Luzon, where the country’s main agricultural sites are concentrated.

PAGASA placed all provinces of Luzon and Samar in the central region of Visayas under a first-level warning alert for the incoming typhoon, which is moving westward at about 20 kilometers per hour.

The Philippines suffers between 15 and 20 typhoons each year during the rainy season, which started on Jun. 8 this year and will likely end between November and December.