The Strongest Storm of the Year Shook Southeast Asia This Weekend

By Yessenia Funes on at

Tropical Storm Mangkhut was on the move Monday as it made its way through Southeast Asia. The former Super Typhoon, which at its peak became the strongest storm to form on Earth this year so far, has been pummelling Hong Kong, Macau, and the Philippines all weekend.

Heavy rainfall from the storm has triggered landslides throughout northern regions of the Philippines where Mangkhut struck on Saturday, and the government is blaming the mining industry—namely, small-scale mines that operate illegally. At least 34 miners who sought refuge in a bunker were discovered dead; another 30 are still missing, reports the Guardian. Now, President Rodrigo Duterte is calling for the halt of all mining activities, per Reuters.

In total, at least 64 people are dead in the Philippines, but Hurricane Maria in the US taught us that death tolls can increase dramatically weeks or even months after a storm passes through.

Mangkhut’s trail of destruction didn’t stop in the Philippines, however. The storm continued its way north, going on to strike Hong Kong and Macau on Sunday with 100 mph gusts. Australian news station SBS News posted a video to Twitter on Sunday that shows the power of that wind: Construction cranes were falling from high-rise buildings in Hong Kong as entire buildings swayed.

For the rest of the week, the China Meteorological Administration is forecasting heavy rains along the storm’s projected path inland from the southeastern coast. Anywhere between four to six inches are expected to pour onto southern Chinese regions as the storm deteriorates.

It’s too soon to know the direct role climate change has played in this disaster, but with warmer waters come stronger storms. Mangkhut passed over waters up to a degree and a half Celsius warmer than normal as it intensified. Recognising that link isn’t rocket science.

Workers dig to find those buried in mines in the Philippines. (Photo: AP)

Debris piled up on the waterfront in Hong Kong after the passage of Typhoon Mangkhut (Photo: AP)

A woman stands on her roof to stay out of the floodwaters in the northeastern Philippines. (Photo: AP)