Millions of people are at risk from a strong typhoon that crashed in the northern Philippines this weekend, and potentially on the south-east coast of China, which could bring floods, landslides and huge waves to the disaster-prone nation, Rescue workers said Wednesday.
Emergency workers have been deployed at the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon, where typhoon Mangkhut is expected to touch land on Saturday.
The Hong Kong Observatory forecasts that the category 5 typhoon could threaten the southeastern coast of China after passing through the Philippines and entering the South China Sea on Saturday.
While there was still uncertainty on its way, the observatory said it could still present very steep waves, floods or a flow of seawater to low areas on the Guangdong coast.
Mangkhut is currently sailing in the Pacific with gusts of 255 kilometers (160 miles) per hour.
"We are concerned about the 10 million people in the Philippines who live in the path of this destructive storm," said Richard Gordon, president of the Philippine Red Cross.
The state weather service said that Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon this year, hitting a maximum of gusts of up to 270 kilometers per hour on Thursday before relaxing at still dangerous speeds as it approaches the ground.
The Philippine Red Cross estimates that three million Filipinos live on the direct path of Mangkhut, communications officer Mary Joy Evalarosa told AFP.
She said another seven million are at risk in the country, and the typhoon is expected to increase the intensity of the seasonal monsoon rains that have already caused flooding in central Luzon, a mainly agricultural region north of the capital, Manila.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.
Tropical storm Yagi and monsoon rains caused heavy flooding throughout central Luzon, as well as in parts of Manila, where an overflowing river swept cars in a district.
The deadliest in the country in history is the Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing in the center of the Philippines in November 2013.
The state meteorological service said heavy rains and strong winds are expected from Friday over northern and central Luzon, along with rough seas on the coasts.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it expected "substantial damage" on the Philippine road to Mangkhut.
Storms of up to seven meters (23 feet) are expected to increase in coastal areas, he said, while heavy rains could trigger landslides and flash floods.
The civil defense office in Manila said that towns and cities on the Mangkhut road are preparing government buildings such as evacuation centers, storing food and other emergency rations, and preparing rescue teams and equipment.
Mangkhut is expected to reach the south coast of China around Sunday, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.