Typhoon lashes northeast Philippines, landslides feared


  • World
  • Sunday, 10 May 2015

Stranded passengers guard their belongings while waiting at a bus terminal in Manila May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA (Reuters) - Typhoon Noul crashed ashore on the northeastern tip of the Philippines on Sunday, as officials warned of landslides and called on residents along the coast to evacuate to safer ground.

The category five storm packed winds of up to 185 kph (115 mph) near the centre, with gusts of up to 220 kph. It made landfall in the rice-producing province of Cagayan about 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital, Manila, the weather bureau said.

Power was cut in Tuguegarao City, the capital of the province of around a million inhabitants. The typhoon is expected to move northwest at 17 kph and head towards southern Japan on Tuesday.

"We strongly advise pre-emptive evacuation while we still have time, and we expect there will be a confluence of events - a high tide, heavy rainfall in the mountains, the possibility of a storm surge and strong winds," Alexander Pama, head of the national disaster agency, told a news briefing before the typhoon hit land.

The typhoon was expected to trigger landslides and flash floods in parts of the Cagayan Valley, the weather bureau said, adding that heavy to intense rainfall was likely within the typhoon's 100 km diameter.

More than 5,000 passengers and about 100 vessels were stranded in ports on Saturday, mostly along the eastern seaboard. Airline Cebu Pacific cancelled at least six domestic flights to the northern Philippines.

Officials in northern Philippine provinces have alerted rescue units and positioned relief goods. The government readied trucks to ferry people away from low-lying and flood-prone areas.

An average of 20 typhoons cross the Philippines each year, with the storms becoming fiercer in recent years. More than 8,000 people died or went missing and about a million were made homeless by Haiyan, another category 5 typhoon that struck the central Philippines in 2013, bringing 5-metre high storm surges.

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Manny Mogato; Editing by Alex Richardson and William Hardy)

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