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Severe typhoon hits Hong Kong, southern China after killing 64 in the Philippines

Typhoon Mangkhut brought strong winds and flooding to Hong Kong on Sept. 16, after leaving 64 dead in the northern Philippines. (Video: Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)

HONG KONG — A severe typhoon made landfall in southern China on Sunday, inundating millions in the densely populated coastal cities with heavy rain, after ripping through Hong Kong and leaving at least 64 dead in the northern Philippines.

Hong Kong authorities were surveying the extent of Typhoon Mangkhut’s damage to this city of 7.3 million as winds of up to 120 mph shook buildings, caused storm surges and felled trees across roads and pavements.

Residents hunkered down in their apartments, and streets in the usually buzzing city were deserted Sunday. Videos shared widely on Twitter and WhatsApp chat groups showed initial damage to some of the city’s towering and closely packed buildings. In one, at least a third of a tower’s windows had been blown out, scattering debris all around; in another, a construction elevator shaft collapsed dramatically at a construction site in Mong Kok.

Buildings swayed as sustained winds of about 96 miles per hour continued to slam against them. The city was on a signal 10 alert — the highest level — for most of Sunday. A red alert remained in effect for parts of southern China, where the typhoon was moving west.

“Remain where you are if protected and be prepared for destructive winds and the change in wind directions,” the Hong Kong Observatory, the city’s meteorological agency, warned in an alert on Sunday afternoon.

Residents were told to avoid Hong Kong’s harbors, including the iconic Victoria Harbor, where storm surges have caused the water level to rise dramatically. The agency also issued a landslide warning and urged residents to keep away from steep slopes.

Though rains had died down by Sunday evening, gusts were still blowing through the city. Roads were littered with fallen trees, making some completely impassable, and glass glistened along the sidewalks. Hong Kong authorities say 284 people had sought treatment for typhoon-
related injuries at hospitals. There have been no reports of fatalities in Hong Kong.

Nearly half a million people were evacuated from seven cities in Guangdong province, on China’s southern coast, where Typhoon Mangkhut was expected to make landfall later Sunday afternoon. For the first time, 42 casinos in the gambling hot spot of Macau were closed “for the safety of casino employees, visitors to the city and residents,” according to a government statement. Severe flooding was seen Sunday in parts of Macau, where residents remember the destruction caused by last year’s Typhoon Hato, which killed 10 and injured hundreds.

The Associated Press reported that more than 2.4 million people were relocated in China. State media reported that two people were killed in Guangdong province.

Flights were canceled at Hong Kong International Airport, a major transportation hub for the region. Airlines were expected to resume operations Monday, but authorities have warned that it would take more than a day to clear the backlog of the some 800 canceled flights. 

On Saturday morning, the typhoon ravaged the Philippine province of Cagayan in northeastern Luzon Island. At least 64 died in landslides or by drowning, the Associated Press reported, citing Philippine National Police officials. Cagayan is largely an agricultural province, and authorities fear extensive damage to crops there, including rice, corn and bananas.

About 63,000 people have been affected, and the damage has not been fully assessed, since many of the worst-hit areas are rural.

Still, the destruction and death toll were far lower than feared — especially compared with Typhoon Haiyan, one of the worst tropical cyclones ever recorded. Haiyan struck the archipelago in 2013 and killed at least 6,300.

Authorities and residents said that they learned from that experience and that residents were more willing and quicker to evacuate to shelters. About ­87,000 people were evacuated.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Cagayan on Sunday to assess the damage and speak to disaster relief officials. 

A spokesman for the president, Harry Roque, said at a news conference that Duterte is “very, very satisfied so far” with the government’s response but expressed his condolences for the lives lost, according to the Rappler news website.

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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