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A man uses a water container to shield him from rain brought about by Typhoon Mangkhut as it barreled across Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, northeastern Philippines, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Philippine officials were assessing damage and checking on possible casualties as Typhoon Mangkhut on Saturday pummeled the northern breadbasket with ferocious wind and rain that set off landslides, damaged an airport terminal and ripped off tin roofs.Aaron Favila/The Associated Press

A “super typhoon” swirled toward Hong Kong and the Chinese coastline on Sunday, gaining in strength over the South China sea after hurtling through the Philippines, where its trail of devastation killed at least 28.

Twenty deaths in the Cordillera region on the main island of Luzon and four in nearby Nueva Vizcaya province were caused by landslides. Another death resulted from a tree fall in the province of Ilocos Sur, Francis Tolentino said by telephone. Three more deaths have been reported in northeastern Cagayan province, where the typhoon made landfall.

Tropical cyclone Mangkhut is considered the strongest to hit the region this year, packing gale force winds of more than 200 kph, equivalent to a maximum Category 5 “intense hurricane” in the Atlantic.

Philippine authorities confirmed 6 people were killed in landslides with four more missing, while another was found dead in a river in Manila, the capital.

Mangkhut, the Thai name for Southeast Asia’s mangosteen fruit, was expected to skirt 100 km (62 miles) south of Hong Kong and veer west towards the coast of China’s Guangdong province, and the gaming center of Macau.

“According to the present forecast track, Mangkhut will be closest to the Pearl River Delta around noontime (0200 GMT),” the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Hong Kong has already raised its second highest No. 9 typhoon signal, which is expected to be stepped up within hours as fierce waves pound low-lying areas and strong winds rattle windows in many towering skyscrapers.

Some residents have been evacuated from low-lying areas with storm surges of up to 3.5 m (12 ft) expected.

Tens of thousands of people had travel plans disrupted after Hong Kong’s international airport, a major regional hub, canceled most flights. Airlines such as its flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, canceled many flights last week.

Last year, typhoon Hato, one of the strongest storms of recent years, pummeled the region, especially Macau, which suffered extensive damage and nine deaths, prompting criticism that authorities had not been well prepared, and underestimated its force.

Macau has been extra cautious this time around. It shut casino gambling operations late on Saturday, authorities said, with China’s People’s Liberation Army on standby for any disaster relief assistance.

“The suspension is for the safety of casino employees, visitors to the city, and residents,” the government of the world’s largest gambling hub said in a statement.

Chinese authorities have ordered about 6,000 boats to return to harbor, and evacuated thousands of offshore oil platform workers, the state news agency, Xinhua, said.

The typhoon is expected to make landfall around the Chinese port of Zhanjiang in western Guangdong on Sunday evening.

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