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Super Typhoon Mangkhut, also known as Ompong in the Philippines, is heading towards the South China Sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea, over the next three days.

Forecasters said typhoon, considered as the strongest this year, could hit northern Cagayan province on Saturday. It was tracked on Thursday about 725 kilometres away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 255 km/h, they said.

In the Philippines, 10 million people are living in the path of the powerful cyclone, according to the Red Cross which has placed its teams in Northern Luzon on alert.

The Philippines is preparing for the most powerful storm to hit so far this year as Super Typhoon Mangkhut bears down on the islands.

And Manuel Mamba, the governor of Cagayan, said northern coastal and island villages were being evacuated on Thursday ahead of the expected onslaught.

Forecaster Meno Mendoza said Mangkhut's strong winds could whip up storm surges while heavy rain could trigger landslides and floods. Almost 48,000 houses in those high-risk areas are made of light materials and vulnerable to Mangkhut's ferocious winds.

Schools were shuttered and some farmers took to their fields to start early harvest of corn and rice that could be ruined by flooding. He said classes would be suspended and offices, except those involved in rescue and relief work, had been advised to close on Friday. The Philippines has been trying to cope with rice shortages.

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Mangkhut has already swept past the United States territory of Guam, in the western Pacific, where it caused flooding and power outages.

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The Pacific Daily News reported government agencies were conducting damage assessments and beginning to clear roads. In the province of Benguet and Kalinga, at least 136 people have been evacuated, according to the civil defence office.

Mr Duterte cancelled his appearance at a missile test-firing aboard a navy ship off northern Bataan province due to the approaching typhoon.

With winds that may gust up to 240km/h, Mangkhut is expected to be more powerful than the Super Typhoon Wanda that resulted in heavy casualties in 1962 and the Super Typhoon Hato, which triggered the highest level typhoon warning signal past year.

The country's deadliest on record is Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.