Philippines braces for most powerful typhoon this year

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Thousands of people will be evacuated as the most powerful typhoon so far this year roars towards the northern Philippines, officials said.

Authorities in the Philippines say they expect storm surges of up to 7m (23 feet) and are warning that heavy rains could trigger landslides and flash floods.

Typhoon Mangkhut has already hit Guam resulting in flooding of streets, uprooting of trees as well as widespread power outages.

An advisory from the JTWC on Tuesday said Mangkhut was packing winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 306 kph. This is more complicated because of possible storm surges, " Mamba said.

Almost 43 million people in the south-east Asian region could be affected, according to United Nations' Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

However, Wu said that the presence of a high pressure system over the Pacific around Taiwan and the slightly southward tilt of Mangkhut's path, the odds of the typhoon making landfall on Taiwan have been reduced.

The Pacific Daily News reported government agencies were conducting damage assessments and beginning to clear roads.

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Fire officials say they don't expect to have containment of the fire, which started on Wednesday, until at least September 22. The most recent wildfire, the Kerlin fire, began Tuesday and has so far burned 1,200 acres in the northern part of the state.

The civil defence office in Manila said towns and cities on Mangkhut's path are preparing government buildings as evacuation centres, stockpiling food and other emergency rations, and preparing rescue teams and equipment.

Tropical Storm Yagi and monsoon rains last month caused heavy flooding across central Luzon as well as parts of Manila, where an overflowing river swept away cars in one district.

Governor Manuel Mamba of the Philippines island of Cagayan said officials would start evacuating islanders on September 13.

The typhoon is arriving at the start of the rice and corn harvest season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, and farmers were scrambling to save what they could of their crops, Mamba said. The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages.

President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled his Thursday plan to board a navy ship in Bataan in central Luzon to conduct a missile test.

About 20 cyclones pass through the disaster-prone country each year.

After leaving the Philippines, it is expected to blow toward Hong Kong and southern China on Sunday if it maintains its course, forecasters said. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan which packed winds of as high as 315 kilometers per hour killed more than 6,300 people there.

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