World

Powerful typhoon slams into Philippines on Christmas Day

MANILA A powerful typhoon with gusts reaching 255kmh made landfall in the eastern Philippines yesterday evening, the Philippine state weather service said.

The eye of Typhoon Nock-Ten hit the remote island of Catanduanes just after 6pm local time, the weather service announced on its official Twitter site.

Catanduanes is about 360km east of Manila.

There has been no immediate official report of damage or casualties.

Military and local government agencies have moved more than 100,000 people from the coast and other hazardous areas of Catanduanes and nearby areas of the Bicol peninsula after experts warned of possible huge waves, floods and landslides.

In the Camarines Sur province, near Catanduanes, governor Miguel Villafuerte hinted on Twitter at the difficulty of convincing people to recognise the approaching danger amid Christmas celebrations.

"Please evacuate, we will offer roast pig at the evacuation centres," he tweeted.

In the village of Alcala on the slopes of the active Mayon volcano, about 100 babies, toddlers, parents and elderly people were trucked off to a school as rain and strong winds shook trees at midday.

"There are large ash deposits on the slopes (of Mayon). Heavy rain can dislodge them and bury our homes in mud," said Mr Alberto Lindo, an official of the farming village of 3,300 people.

"We went around with megaphones and gave instructions to our people to eat breakfast, pack and board the military trucks," he added.

The typhoon, the strongest to hit the disaster-prone archipelago this year, was forecast to sweep west into the country's most densely populated areas including the capital Manila by today.

Forecasters said that the typhoon would eventually affect an area of nearly 42 million people, including the capital Manila.

Rescuers in Manila and the flood-prone central Luzon plains to its north have been put on standby, evacuation centres opened and food and other rations stocked.

The coast guard have also ordered the beaches south of Manila to be cleared of holidaymakers, while residents of the capital's seaside slums were warned to leave their homes.

Tsunami-like waves - storm surges - devastated the city of Tacloban and nearby areas when super typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing. - AFP

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