Over 1,000 flee as typhoon threatens northern Philippines

Soldiers evacuate families living near the Bulusan volcano in Irosin town, Sorsogon province, south of Manila on May 8, 2015, ahead of Typhoon Noul approaching the province. -AFP

MANILA: More than 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes as Typhoon Noul approached the northern Philippines, threatening flash floods, landslides and tsunami-like storm surges, government agencies warned on Sunday.

The storm’s movement has slowed slightly but it has also strengthened to pack gusts of 205 kilometres (127 miles) per hour and is still expected to hit the northern edge of the main island of Luzon by Sunday afternoon or evening, according to Esperanza Cayanan, chief of the government’s weather monitoring division.

As of Sunday morning, it was about 140 kilometres northeast of the northern province of Cagayan, which is expected to feel the brunt of the typhoon’s fury later in the day, she added.

Over 1,200 people have already been pre-emptively evacuated from the areas expected to be affected by Noul, said Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the government’s national disaster monitoring council.

“There are areas which can have landslides. There are areas which can have flash floods. There are coastal areas which can be hit by storm surges as high as 1.5 metres (five feet),” she told AFP.

Storm surges -- tsunami-like waves generated by powerful typhoons -- have become a major concern during storms.   In November 2013 storm surges were the main killers as Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the central Philippines, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

Several hundred people living in a farming hamlet below the restive Bulusan volcano on Luzon have also been evacuated due to the potential that rain could mix with volcanic ash accumulated on the volcano’s slopes to form deadly, fast-moving mudflows that could bury entire houses.

The government has already suspended ferry services in the affected areas and some domestic flights have also been cancelled as part of safety measures.

About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, many of them deadly. -AFP

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