Ferries shut down as typhoon approaches Philippines

Filipino children frolic in a flooded street after a downpour in Manila, Philippines, 08 May 2015. State weather bureau raised Storm Warning Signal one in eight areas as typhoon Noul moves closer toward the Philippines and warned residents in low lying areas of possible flash floods and landslides. - EPA

MANILA, May 9, 2015 (AFP) - Ferry services were shut down and some seaside communities were warned they could be swamped by large waves as Typhoon Noul drew closer to the Philippines on Saturday, officials said.

The typhoon is set to smash into a small cluster of coastal towns in the mountainous north of Luzon island early Sunday bringing with it maximum sustained winds of 160 kilometres (100 miles) an hour, the state weather service said.

“Our advice is for people on the eastern seaboard to avoid outdoor activities,” state weather forecaster Fernando Cada told AFP, while adding there was a possibility the typhoon could weaken as it nears land.

Storm surges -- tsunami-like waves generated by powerful typhoons -- that could reach 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) in height are forecast in Isabela province and two other areas of Luzon, he added.

He said heavy rain that could trigger floods and landslides was also forecast near the eye of Noul, which is forecast to veer northeast towards southern Taiwan after running into Luzon’s mountain ranges.

The coastguard said it has shut down ferry services on the threatened areas, leaving nearly 6,000 commuters stranded at ports according to a tally by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Several hundred people living at a farming hamlet below the restive Bulusan volcano on Luzon island’s southeastern tip were also evacuated Friday due to the potential threat of mudflows from accumulated ash deposits on its slopes.

Storms and typhoons routinely kill hundreds of people in the Philippines each year.

In November 2013 storm surges were the main killers as Super Storm Haiyan ravaged the central Philippines, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

Apart from people in the Bulusan area, no one else has been evacuated from areas threatened by Noul, civil defence officials in these regions said.

“These people are trained to leave on short notice,” Norma Talosig, civil defence chief for the northeastern Philippines told AFP.

Over the next few hours, municipal mayors in these areas will decide whether evacuations are necessary, the state weather forecaster added.
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