Philippines braces for most powerful typhoon this year

Typhoon Mangkhut is forecast to pack maximum winds of 230kph by Sept 14 2018 before gradually weakening

Typhoon Mangkhut to intensify into deadly Cat 5 storm, mammoth rains likely

Around 10 million people in the Philippines are in the storm's path, and millions more in heavily populated coastal China.

Taiwan might be able to breathe a sigh of relief, weather forecasters said on Thursday, after the latest movements of Super Typhoon Mangkhut suggested it would spare the island.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System said up to 43.3 million people could be affected by the storm in the Philippines and southern China.

Multiple Hong Kong airlines, including flag carrier Cathay Pacific, have announced they will waive charges for rebooking or re-routing flights arriving or departing the city during the worst of the storm.

The state weather service said Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon so far this year, with sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour.

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Typhoon Mangkhut, which has already blasted through the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, is speeding across the Pacific with winds that can gust as high as 255 kilometres (160 miles) per hour.

About 80 percent of the USA territory was without power but it was restored by Thursday morning.

Luzon was devastated by Super Typhoon Haima - known as Lawin locally - in 2016, with 14,000 houses destroyed and 50,000 homes damaged, according to CNN Philippines.

The storm, which is the strongest to hit the Philippines this year, is also threatening farmlands in Luzon just before the rice and corn harvest.

Office of Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said other northern provinces will also start evacuating residents from low-lying areas on Thursday.

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Tropical storm force winds and some rain bands will likely begin Wednesday night, regardless of the actual landfall of the storm. At that point the storm was centered about 1,170 miles (1,880 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, the NHC said.

Forecaster Meno Mendoza says Mangkhut's strong winds can topple huge trees and whip up storm surges while its rains could trigger landslides and floods.

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

According to the observatory, Mangkhut is forecast to move towards the Philippine island of Luzon on Friday and Saturday.

Mangkhut is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 storms a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan which packed winds of as high as 315 kilometers per hour killed more than 6,300 people there. It's the rain that could be the biggest issue with latest updates on what Florence may do after making landfall looking much more concerning for a major flood event in both North and SC.

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