Typhoon Mangkhut damage
© Armed Forces of the Philippines
Rescue workers clear debris from the road after Typhoon Mangkhut swept through the Philippines.

Storm moving towards Hong Kong and China's heavily populated south coast with winds of more than 177km/h

Typhoon Mangkhut killed at least 28 people in the Philippines as it obliterated homes and crops and caused massive flooding, and is now on course to plough into China's coast.

The storm, which was the strongest the world has seen this year, was not as ferocious as feared, though due to the remote areas where the typhoon hit, the full death toll and extent of the destruction is still unknown.

By Sunday morning, it was hurtling towards China's heavily populated southern coast with winds of 177km/h (110mph). It will first pass by Hong Kong, where storm warnings have been raised to their highest level and hundreds of people have been evacuated to storm shelters, with businesses boarded up and most flights cancelled.

The category 5 "super" typhoon hit the northern end of the Philippine island of Luzon early on Saturday morning, with the high winds ripping the roofs off houses and pulling down trees and electricity pylons, and the rains causing fatal landslides and flooding. More than five million people were in its path.

The island is a key agricultural area in the Philippines, producing most of the country's rice, corn and others vegetable crops, and the storm left them ruined a month before harvest, damaging the livelihoods of thousands in the region.

Jerome Balinton, a spokesman for Save the Children who was on the ground in north-eastern Luzon, said: "The further north we travelled the more extensive the damage, particularly in Cagayan province. House after house had been flattened or badly damaged, with roofs or walls missing. Large trees have been uprooted from the ground and power poles bent right over, leaving power lines strewn across the ground."

He added: "In some areas where the eye of the storm hit, it seems as if nothing has been left undamaged."

Philippine presidential adviser Francis Tolentino said the dead included an infant and another child who were among four people killed in a landslide in Nueva Vizcaya, one of several provinces battered by the typhoon.

The typhoon affected 250,000 people in Luzon, according to the government's natural disaster council. Mangkhut, a Thai word for the mangosteen fruit, is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines.

After Hong Kong, Mangkhut will pass the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, which has closed all of its 42 casinos for the first time and sandbagged businesses after flood warnings.

The typhoon is due to hit the Chinese province of Guandong by Sunday afternoon, where nearly half a million people have been evacuated from seven cities.