All storm signals lifted as Typhoon 'Ompong' moves farther from PH

Hong Kong authorities lifted the storm alert to its highest level on Sunday as typhoon Mangkhut was fast approaching, bringing the city to a standstill as residents prepared for the threat of heavy rain, storm surges and flooding. In the Philippines, the typhoon is locally known as Ompong. The storm sustained speed of up to 270 kph (165 mph) when the typhoon hit the Philippines on Saturday (September 15).

Most shops and public services were shut, and more than 800 flights have been cancelled at Hong Kong International Airport - affecting more than 100,000 passengers.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said that at the height of the typhoon's onslaught on Saturday afternoon, dozens of people, mostly miners and their families, rushed into an old three-storey building in the village of Ucab.

Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall on Saturday in the town of Baggao in the northern Philippine Cagayan province, weather officials said.

In Hong Kong, authorities issued their maximum alert, with residents warned to stay indoors to avoid flying debris.

The typhoon - the strongest tropical cyclone the world has faced this year - recalls memories of the deadliest storm on record in the Philippines - super typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda, in 2013 - which killed more than 7,000.

Three more deaths have been reported in northeastern Cagayan province, where the typhoon made landfall.

Mangkhut is now expected to move inland of western Guangdong.

Mangkhut also shattered glass windows on commercial skyscrapers, felled trees, tore scaffolding off buildings under construction and flooded some areas of Hong Kong with waist-high waters, according to the South China Morning Post.

The island is a key agricultural area in the Philippines, producing most of the country's rice, corn and others vegetable crops, and the storm left them ruined a month before harvest, damaging the livelihoods of thousands in the region.

Boats were thrown onto the shore by powerful waves and the vast rainfall has brought fears of landslides, although none have yet been reported in Hong Kong.

Videos and images coming in from Hong Kong and nearby Shenzhen, China, show how destructive the storm is.

Authorities throughout those regions had been urged to dismantle structures vulnerable to heavy winds, strengthen port facilities and suspend large outdoor gatherings, the meteorological administration said. It was the most powerful typhoon to hit Hong Kong since 1979, packing winds of 121 miles per hour. At least seven bodies had been dug out Sunday before the work had ceased during the night. At least 64 deaths were reported in the Philippines and two more in China as of Sunday.

  • Rogelio Becker