Determined not to see a repeat of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6000 people in the central Philippines in 2013, officials had evacuated more than 105,000 people to temporary shelters before Typhoon Mangkhut hit.
"They (authorities) said this typhoon is twice as strong as the last typhoon, that's why we are terrified", Myrna Parallag, 53, told AFP after fleeing her home in the northern Philippines.
There have so far been no immediate reports of major damages or casualties in the region, where a massive evacuation from high-risk areas has been under way for the last two days.
The biggest storm of the year has been downgraded from a "super" to a "severe" typhoon, but it is still considered very risky and the city issued its highest storm warning of Level 10 as winds of up to 117 miles per hour began closing in on the southern coast of China.
After passing the Philippines the island of Taiwan could receive strong storm force winds and heavy rains, following which it will be Hong Kong and mainland China that is on watch for future impacts.
There are warnings that typhoon Mangkhut could result in storm surges of as much as 23 feet in the landfall region, suggesting significant coastal damage to communities in its path.
However, the storm has weakened and is now classified by the HKO as a severe typhoon rather than a super typhoon.
The two lifeless bodies of the two women in the Philippines were pulled from the soil of a hillside that collapsed after the storm's torrential rains, police said.
Winds and rain are preventing government agencies from assessing the full extent of damage, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a televised conference.
Rescue workers clear debris from the road after Typhoon Mangkhut swept through the Philippines.
"This was the strongest and the worst storm that I've ever experienced in my life", Teresita Antonio, 54, told The New York Times in Claveria, a corn- and rice-growing area on Luzon's northern coast.
Formerly classified as a super typhoon, Mangkhut is known as Ompong in the Philippines - as NPR's global correspondent Julie McCarthy reports, the government gives it a "Filipino cast" to engage the public.
Airlines in Hong Kong have cancelled hundreds of flights due to the storm, which is expected to come within 200 km (125 miles) of the city on Sunday.
The Hong Kong Observatory also issued a Red Rainstorm Warning at 10.55am.
The fear of Mangkhut is remembered by the Philippians in the form of Typhoon Haiyan, which had caused enormous damage in 2013 causing the death of more than 6,000.
A "super typhoon" is swirling towards Hong Kong and the Chinese coast, gaining in strength over the South China Sea after hurtling through the Philippines, where it wreaked devastation that killed at least seven.
Most shops and public services are shut, and more than 800 flights have been cancelled at Hong Kong International Airport - affecting more than 100,000 passengers.