Mangkhut is forecast to enter the Philippines on Wednesday just after another storm left.
MANILA, Philippines The most powerful typhoon of the season is closing in on the northern Philippines, where officials ordered precautionary evacuations and closures of schools and offices and urged farmers to quickly harvest their crops to reduce damage.
Super Typhoon Mangkhut, an even more powerful storm than USA -bound Hurricane Florence, was heading Wednesday for the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The state weather service said Mangkhut will be the strongest typhoon this year, peaking at gusts of up to 270 kilometres an hour on Thursday before easing to still-dangerous velocities as it approaches land. According to a projection of the storm's path by the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), it will pass within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of Hong Kong, and 160 kilometers (100 miles) of Macau on Sunday, during which wind speeds are expected to be up to 220 kilometers per hour (136 mph), equivalent to a category 4 hurricane.
"We're anxious for the 10 million people in the Philippines living in the path of this destructive storm", said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.
Almost 43 million people in the south-east Asian region could be affected, according to United Nations' Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. It has already passed the USA territory of Guam, where it caused widespread flooding and power outages.
The Philippine Red Cross estimates three million Filipinos live in the direct path of Mangkhut, communications officer Mary Joy Evalarosa told AFP.
Mangkhut is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.
Super Typhoon Haiyan remains the Philippines' deadliest cyclone, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing in 2013.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Philippines is on alert to support response efforts.
Even so, Guy said will come "dangerously close to clipping the country", causing heavy rain and flooding in the island's north, where local authorities are preparing relief goods and security forces have been put on alert.
He said very strong winds, storm surges over coastal areas and heavy to intense rains are expected in Cagayan and Isabela and the rest of Northern Luzon.
According to Hong Kong Observatory, Mangkhut will enter the South China Sea on Saturday.