In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, NASA satellite image, Super Typhoon Mangkhut churns west towards the Philippines. Philippine officials have begun evacuating thousands of people in the path of the most powerful typhoon this year, closing schools and readying bulldozers for landslides.
Lauren Dauphin/NASA Earth Observatory via AP
In photos: 'Ompong' retains strength as it blasts the Philippines
( - September 15, 2018 - 8:35am

MANILA, Philippines — Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) maintained its ferocious strength as it slammed into the Philippines early Saturday, forcing people in its path to flee their homes.

There were no immediate reports of major damages or casualties, but witnesses have said the storm's ferocious wind and blinding rain ripped off tin roof sheets and knocked out power at the start of the onslaught, the Associated Press reported.

As of 5:00 a.m. Saturday, the state weather bureau tracked "Ompong" in the coastal town of Baggao in Cagayan province on the northern tip of Luzon island. The typhoon is heading towards Apayao and Ilocos Norte.

The powerful storm, which weather forecasters have called the strongest typhoon this year, has maximum sustained winds of 200 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 330 kilometers per hour.

LIVE UPDATES: Typhoon Ompong

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