Typhoon lashes south China after killing dozens in Philippines

Typhoon Mangkhut barrelled into southern China on Sunday after lashing the northern Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain and that left at least 64 people dead and dozens more feared buried in a landslide.

'Prepare for the worst,' says Hong Kong security minister as storm's onslaught continues

Here, strong winds and rain lash the Chinese city of Shenzhen on Sunday. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Typhoon Mangkhut barrelled into southern China on Sunday after lashing the northern Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain that left at least 64 people dead and dozens more feared buried in a landslide.

The storm has left at least two people dead in China's Guangdong province, a Chinese state broadcaster said.

More than 2.4 million people had fled their homes in the southern Chinese province by Sunday evening to avoid the massive typhoon, and nearly 50,000 fishing boats were called back to port, state media reported. It threatened to be the strongest typhoon to hit Hong Kong in nearly two decades.

High waves hit the shore at Heng Fa Chuen, a residental district on the east side of Hong Kong, as Typhoon Mangkhut slams the city on Sunday. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

"Prepare for the worst," Hong Kong Security Minister John Lee​ Ka-chiu urged residents.

That warning came after Mangkhut's devastating march through the northern Philippines, where the storm made landfall Saturday on Luzon island with sustained winds of 205 km/h and gusts of 255 km/h.

Police Superintendent Pelita Tacio said 34 villagers had died and 36 remained missing in landslides in two villages in Itogon town in the northern Philippine mountain province of Benguet.

Landslide obliterates building

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan told The Associated Press by phone that at the height of the typhoon's onslaught Saturday afternoon, dozens of people, mostly miners and their families, rushed into an old three-story building in the village of Ucab.

The building — a former mining bunkhouse that had been transformed into a chapel — was obliterated when part of a mountain slope collapsed. Three villagers who managed to escape told authorities what happened.

"They thought they were really safe there," the mayor said. He expressed sadness that the villagers, many of them poor, had few options to survive in a region where big corporations have profited immensely from gold mines.

A view of the landslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhut that buried people at a mining camp in Itogon, Philippines, on Sunday. (Harley Palangchao/Reuters)

Rescuers were scrambling to pull out the body of a victim from the mound of mud and rocks in Ucab before Tacio, the police official, left the area Sunday.

"I could hear villagers wailing in their homes near the site of the accident," Tacio said.

Hong Kong battered

As Mangkhut spun forward, Hong Kong braced for a storm that could be the strongest to hit the city since Typhoon York in 1999.

A video posted online by residents showed the top corner of an old building break and fall off, while in another video, a tall building swayed as strong winds blew.

The storm shattered glass windows on commercial skyscrapers in Hong Kong, sending sheets of paper pouring out of the buildings, fluttering and spiraling as they headed for the debris-strewn ground, according to several videos posted on social media.

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

The paper said the heavy rains brought storm surges of three metres around Hong Kong.

Dozens of damaged windows littered the sides of buildings in Hong Kong on Sunday. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

The storm made landfall in the Guangdong city of Taishan at 5 p.m., packing wind speeds of 162 km/h. State television broadcaster CGTN reported that surging waves flooded a seaside hotel in the city of Shenzhen.

In Macau, next door to Hong Kong, casinos were ordered to close from 11 p.m. local time Saturday, the first time such action was taken in the city, the South China Morning Post reported. In the city's inner harbour district, the water level reached 1.5 metres on Sunday and was expected to rise further. The area was one of the most affected by floods from Typhoon Hato, which left 10 people dead last year.

Authorities in southern China issued a red alert, the most severe warning, as the national meteorological centre said the densely populated region would face a "severe test caused by wind and rain" and urged officials to prepare for possible disasters.

"Because Mangkhut will bring winds and rains of extraordinary speeds, scope and severity, our preparation and response efforts will be greater than in the past," Lee said. "Each department must have a sense of crisis, make a comprehensive assessment and plan, and prepare for the worst."

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific said all of its flights would be cancelled between 2:30 a.m. Sunday and 4 a.m. Monday. The city of Shenzhen also cancelled all flights between Sunday and early Monday morning. Hainan Airlines cancelled 234 flights in the cities of Haikou, Sanya, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai scheduled over the weekend.

Dozens of landslides

In the Philippines, rescuers were hampered by rain and mud, and search and rescue operations were suspended until daybreak Monday, Palangdan said. Police and their vehicles could not immediately reach the landside-hit area because the ground was unstable and soaked from the heavy rains, regional police chief Rolando Nana told the ABS-CBN TV network.

Watch: CBC's Saša Petricic on the continued landslide risk in the Philippines

CBC's Saša Petricic reports north of Manila on the dangers left after powerful Typhoon Mangkhut struck 2:02

The storm is blamed for more than 50 landslides, said CBC's Saša Petricic, reporting from one of the canyons north of Manila. The region has turned out to be one of the most dangerous since the typhoon struck, Petricic said as he stood along a mountain road where rushing waters and powerful winds caused nearby homes to collapse.

On Sunday, Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that Canada "offers its sincerest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives, and we hope for a swift recovery for those injured."

The Philippines appeared to have been spared the high number of casualties many had feared. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened villages and displaced more than five million in the central Philippines. A massive evacuation ahead of Mangkhut helped lessen potential casualties, with about 87,000 people leaving high-risk areas, officials said.