efe-epaManila

Typhoon Mangkhut, ranked as the most powerful of the year, will enter the Philippines Wednesday as the country braces itself for the arrival of the storm expected to hit the northern island of Luzon.

A Category 5 typhoon, Mangkhut, named Ompong in the Philippines, is moving with winds blowing at 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour), with gusts of 245 kph, according to the Philippine meteorological service PAGASA.

If Mangkhut continues to grow stronger in the next few hours and sustained winds accompanying it reach 220 kph, it will then be classified as a supertyphoon.

The last supertyphoon that swept Philippines was Haiyan in 2013, one of the most potent recorded in history with sustained winds of 235 kph. It left more than 6,300 dead, 1,000 missing and affected 14 million.

The arrival of Mangkhut will cause heavy rainfall in the provinces of Rizal, Cavite, Batangas and Manila as the storm approaches the Pacific the south of Luzon.

According to weather forecasts, Mangkhut will move northwards and could make landfall in the provinces of Isabela, Cogayan and Bataan, at the northernmost end of Philippines, between Friday and Saturday.

Isabela and Pagayan are two of the main rice and maize producing regions of the country and their harvest had to be delayed owing to the imminent arrival of the typhoon.

In these regions, where heavy flooding is expected in areas close to rivers and coasts, evacuation centers have already been set up for local residents.

Mangkhut is located about 1,300 kilometers east of Luzon and is moving westward at a speed of 20 kph.

The Philippines experiences 15 to 20 typhoons each year during the monsoon season that begins in June and usually concludes between November and December.