HONGF KONG — A tropical ‘super typhoon’ Mangkhut swirled towards Hong Kong and the Chinese coast on Sunday, gaining in strength over the South China Sea after hurtling through the Philippines, where it wreaked devastation that killed at least 12 people.
Cyclone Mangkhut is considered the strongest to hit the region this year, packing gale force winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph), equivalent to a maximum Category 5 ‘intense hurricane’ in the Atlantic.
China’s National Meteorological Centre issued a red alert for the typhoon — the highest possible alert — on Saturday afternoon.
More than 500 flights have been cancelled at one of the world’s busiest airports in Hong Kong. More than 1,100 flights arrive and depart daily from the Hong Kong International Airport, servicing a population of over 7 million people.
Mangkhut, the Thai name for Southeast Asia’s mangosteen fruit, was expected to skirt 100 km (62 miles) south of Hong Kong and veer west towards the coast of China’s southern Guangdong province, and the gaming center of Macau.
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan braced for Mangkhut as it moved across the South China Sea.
The storm is predicted to pass Hong Kong today, bringing with it downpours and heavy winds, before slamming into the Chinese mainland on Monday morning.
Hong Kong residents taped up their windows and stocked up on water and supplies after authorities warned the storm could be one of the worst to ever hit the city.
Chinese authorities in Guangdong province have called back more than 30,000 fishing boats and taken precautions at two nuclear power plants that are in the storm’s path.
In the Philippines, authorities have confirmed 12 people were killed in landslides with four more missing as the massive storm ripped through the main island of Luzon, in the country’s north.
Russian rocket fails in the mid air, crew lands safely
COSMODROME—Booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed in mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely without any harm.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.
The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said that it had gone smoothly in its initial stage.
“Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members,” NASA said in a statement.