Typhoon slams Philippines as Mangkhut claims first victims
A woman in the Phillipines holds her umbrella during heavy rains caused by Typhoon Mangkhut
By Jinky Jorgio and Hilary Clarke
Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT) September 15, 2018
(CNN)At least two people have been killed by Typhoon Mangkhut, known locally as Ompong, which slammed into the Philippines early Saturday morning, bringing ferocious gale-force winds and pounding rains.
Both victims were women, killed when a rain-drenched hillside collapsed on them, according to the French news agency AFP.
Mangkhut, the strongest storm of 2018 so far made landfall on the northern tip of the island of Luzon, at about 1:40 a.m. local time.
When it crossed land, Mangkhut was packing winds of up to 270 kph (165 mph), 120 kph (75 mph) stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina.
Although the death toll is likely to increase, there was some relief in the Philippines that the damage was not as bad as feared.
"Honestly, we were expecting the worst from this," Edgar Posadas, a spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) told CNN.
"I was praying and hoping and worried about having so much casualties. But I think after Yolanda, after Haiyan [the international name for Yolanda], there were a lot of lessons that were learned in terms of preparedness, early warnings, preemptive evacuations... and this went a long way."
More than 6,000 people died when Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines five years ago, the worst in a generation. That storm displaced nearly 4 million people. Many of the survivors ran short of food, water and medicine almost immediately.
But as Typhoon Mangkhut passes over the south-eastern nation, there are still fears more could have perished.
Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told CNN that the casualties were rescue workers and that there had been 51 landslides across the region as a result of the storm which is now pounding the Philippines with heavy rain.
Mangkhut's eye is now over water in the South China Sea and making its way toward Hong Kong and southern China.