Philippines braces for most powerful typhoon this year

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials say they plan to evacuate thousands of villagers, shut down schools and offices and scramble to harvest rice and corn as the most powerful typhoon so far this year menacingly roars toward the country's north.

Forecasters said Wednesday that Typhoon Mangkhut, which was churning 1,190 kilometers (738 miles) in the Pacific off the eastern Philippines with sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (127 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph), could make landfall in northern Cagayan province on Saturday.

Forecaster Meno Mendoza says Mangkhut's strong winds can topple huge trees and whip up storm surges while its rains could trigger landslides and floods.

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba says coastal villages will start evacuating residents Thursday ahead of the onslaught.