Typhoon Mangkhut, known locally as Ompong, made landfall in Cagayan province on northeast Luzon island at 1:40 a.m. local time, according to the country's weather agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
Super typhoon Mangkhut is approaching the Philippines with estimated 167 miles per hour winds and gusts to 200 miles per hour, threatening a devastating impact to the northern tip of the main island of Luzon when it makes landfall on Saturday.
Thousands of people fled their homes in high-risk areas ahead of the storm's arrival because of major flooding and landslide risks.
Photo taken on September 16, 2018 shows a tree damaged by strong wind in Hong Kong, south China.
Mangkhut is already the storm of 2018, and is now packing sustained winds of 165 kilometers per hour (103 miles per hour), with gusts up to 205 kilometers per hour (127 miles per hour).
Philippine officials said at least 12 people were killed as the massive storm ripped through the main island of Luzon, in the country's north.
Three people have already died as one of the strongest typhoons in the history of the Philippines makes landfall.
Formerly classified as a super typhoon, Mangkhut is known as Ompong in the Philippines - as NPR's worldwide correspondent Julie McCarthy reports, the government gives it a "Filipino cast" to engage the public.
The death toll would "probably still go up", said Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, noting that reports of damage caused by Mangkhut were trickling in as emergency teams were able to reach battered areas. Authorities are also checking what happened to about 70 men who reportedly returned to their coastal village to check on their homes during the typhoon onslaught.
Mangkhut, named after a Thai fruit, weakened after hitting land, and now has maximum sustained winds of 213 kilometers per hour, according to the JTWC.
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The Airport Authority Hong Kong reported that most flights have been canceled or delayed.
"Almost all of the buildings here have been damaged, the roofs were blown away", Rogelio Sending, a government official in Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan, told Reuters.
Tropical Storm Barijat is moving toward southern China, while Tropical Storm Olivia hit Hawaii with 45-mph winds.
Houses collapsed as more than five million people found themselves in the path of the deadly typhoon.
A Strong Wind Signal No. 3 is set to be issued later Saturday, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.
More than 15,000 people had been evacuated in northern provinces by Friday afternoon, the Office of Civil Defence said.
The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) forecast that Mangkhut will be closest to the Pearl River Delta around noon, skirting about 100 kilometers to the south of Hong Kong.
Gusty winds with occasional moderate to heavy rains are expected over Visayas, while scattered light to moderate to at times heavy rains over Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and CARAGA.
The storm is expected to be one for Hong Kong's record books.
He said: "Because Mangkhut will bring winds and rains of extraordinary speeds, scope and severity, our preparation and response efforts will be greater than in the past".