Santiago, Isabela province, the Philippines CNN  — 

Super Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the Philippines in the early hours of Saturday, bringing ferocious gale-force winds and pounding rains, as aid agencies warned millions are at risk from rising flood waters and landslides.

Mangkhut was the strongest storm anywhere on the planet in 2018, carrying gusts of up to 325 kilometers per hour (200 mph) before it made landfall in Cagayan province, on the northern tip of Luzon, about 1:40 a.m. local time.

When it crossed land, Mangkhut was packing winds of up to 270 kph (165 mph), 120 kph (75 mph) stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina on the same day.

After the center of the storm passed the Philippines, Mangkhut’s winds slowed enough for the typhoon to lose its “super” status, but it remains a very powerful storm system with maximum sustained winds of 215 kph (134 mph), equivalent to a category 4 hurricane.

It’s now pounding the Philippines with heavy rain, and heading west into the South China Sea toward Hong Kong and southern China.