Philippines evacuates nearly 1,800 as tropical storm Molave approaches


MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines evacuated nearly 1,800 people and suspended sea travel as tropical storm Molave was expected to bring widespread rains over two regions on the southern part of the main island of Luzon on Sunday.

Tropical cyclone wind alerts were issued for several provinces in the Bicol and Calabarzon regions with storm Molave expected to make landfall later in the day while traversing the southern Luzon area, the national weather bureau said.

"Further intensification prior to landfall over Bicol region remains likely," it warned in a bulletin.

Molave follows tropical storm Saudel, which last week caused widespread flooding in Quezon province in the Calabarzon region, southeast of the capital Manila.

After crossing the Philippine archipelago, Molave was expected to continue intensifying over the South China Sea, possibly reaching typhoon category by Tuesday evening, it said.

Sea travel operations were cancelled in the Calabarzon region, with 662 people reportedly stranded at ports due to strong winds, according to the disaster monitoring agency.

In the Bicol provinces, a total of 532 families, or 1,789 people, were preemptively evacuated to temporary shelters, it said.

(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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