Philippines starts massive evacuations as huge typhoon nears

Images of Typhoon Mangkhut, locally named "Typhoon Ompong", is seen at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council operations centre in metropolitan Manila, Philippines. (Aaron Favila, AP)
Images of Typhoon Mangkhut, locally named "Typhoon Ompong", is seen at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council operations centre in metropolitan Manila, Philippines. (Aaron Favila, AP)

Philippine officials have begun evacuating thousands of people in the path of the most powerful typhoon this year, closing schools and readying bulldozers for landslides.

Typhoon Mangkhut, considered as the strongest and most massive so far this season, could hit northeastern Cagayan province on Saturday. It was tracked on Thursday about 725km away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205km/h and gusts of up to 255km/h.

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba tells The Associated Press by telephone that evacuations of residents from risky coastal villages and island municipalities north of the province have started and classes in all levels have been canceled.

Government forces have been placed on full alert.

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