From fatal floods in Kerala, India to Hurricane Florence in the southeast of the United States, recent storms have wreaked havoc on entire communities, but Typhoon Mangkhut is proving to be this year’s strongest storm, and the full scale of its toll is yet to be seen.
The typhoon — which has now made its way from the Philippines to southern China — has already claimed dozens of lives.
Mangkhut’s rains and vicious winds struck the Philippines — where it is being called Super Typhoon Ompong — early on Saturday morning, before moving north to Hong Kong and striking China’s mainland on Sunday.
Though people were evacuated by the thousands ahead of the storm, more than 100 people are believed to be dead or missing in the Philippines, including 40 people who were killed by a massive landslide in the mining town of Itogon. Police officials expect the figure to rise, despite recovery efforts underway.
Update: We’re at Itogon, #Philippines. Landslides buried a village here, trapping miners in a bunkhouse and people in a church. Rescue workers trying to clear mud and debris, but the scale of the disaster is both wide and sad. @nbcnews@todayshow@NBCNightlyNews@msnbc#Mangkhutpic.twitter.com/uzwD7mmPNk— Janis Mackey Frayer (@janisfrayer) September 17, 2018
By the time the storm reached Hong Kong’s shores, it had lost some speed and been downgraded from a “super typhoon” to a “typhoon.” While no lives were lost on the islands — an autonomous Chinese territory — Mangkhut’s impact was still devastating.
The storm, which would be classified a Category 5 hurricane if it had originated in the Atlantic Ocean, will be particularly difficult for those living in poverty to recover from. The government opened dozens of temporary shelters for those in need, the South China Morning Post reported. But for those who previously lived in makeshift housing or poorly maintained low-income housing, Typhoon Mangkhut, which blasted through skyscraper windows and ripped scaffolding clear off buildings, was especially distressing.
This is happening in my aunt’s house in Hong Kong. They’re going through a massive typhoon. Let’s hope she makes it out okay. pic.twitter.com/9Sxi0NuFIJ— Writer Louis Leung (@ricedaddy7) September 16, 2018
Though Mangkhut — the Thai word for the mangosteen fruit — is the worst storm the region has faced this year, the typhoon’s impact was not as severe as expected, the Guardian reported. The storm was originally expected to pass through Taiwan and Hong Kong, where it might have affected a larger number of people, but changed course as it approached land.
Mangkhut ultimately struck Luzon, the largest and most heavily populated island in the Philippines. It crossed over the island’s northern tip, a rural area responsible for the majority of the country’s rice production.
Remote rural areas often struggle to recover from disastrous weather events like Mangkhut. Though typhoons are common in the Southeast Asian country, the lack of infrastructure in these remote areas makes it difficult for humanitarian aid and relief efforts to reach those affected in the aftermath of major storms and landslides.
In total, Typhoon Mangkhut’s damage to China and the Philippines is predicted to cost more than $60 billion, according to Bloomberg.