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.
32 dead, 1 missing in Papua attacks, Indonesian police say
JAYAPURA, INDONESIA- Security forces tried to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier who were killed in one of the worst separatist attacks in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, officials said Tuesday.
Papua police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote mountainous village in Nduga district.
Citing reports from several witnesses, Diaz said, eight other workers fled to the nearby house of a local parliament member, but an armed group came a day later and killed seven of them. However the eighth managed to escape and remains missing.
“This is the worst attack launched by the armed criminal group recently amid intensified development by the government,” Diaz told The Associated Press.
Separately, Papua province military spokesman Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi said an armed group attacked a military post in Mbua village in the same district late Monday, killing a soldier and injuring another.Follow @gorkhapost