Typhoon Mangkhut, which CNN labels "the world's strongest storm this year," barreled into southern China on Sunday after lashing the northern Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain that left at least 36 people dead and dozens more feared buried in a landslide. Ahead of the massive typhoon, nearly half a million people had been evacuated from seven cities in China's Guangdong province, the gambling enclave of Macau closed casinos for the first time, and the Hong Kong Observatory warned people to stay away from the Victoria Harbour landmark, where storm surges battered the sandbag-reinforced waterfront. Mangkhut made landfall in the city of Taishan, reports the AP, packing wind speeds of 100mph. Authorities in southern China issued a red alert, the most severe warning, as the national meteorological center said the densely populated region would face a "severe test caused by wind and rain."
On Sunday morning, the typhoon packed sustained winds of 96mph and gusts of up to 118mph. The Hong Kong Observatory said although Mangkhut had weakened slightly, its extensive, intense rainbands were bringing heavy downfall and frequent squalls. Hundreds of flights were canceled. All high-speed and some normal rail services in Guangdong and Hainan provinces were halted, the China Railway Guangzhou Group Co. said. In Hong Kong, a video posted by residents showed the top corner of an old building break and fall off while in another video, a tall building swayed as winds blew. The storm also broke windows, felled trees, tore bamboo scaffolding off buildings under construction, and flooded areas with sometimes waist-high waters, per the South China Morning Post. The paper said heavy rains brought storm surges of 10 feet around Hong Kong.
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