Hundreds flee powerful typhoon in Philippines

Last Updated 17 October 2010, 12:19 IST

Typhoon Megi further intensified as it neared the northern coast, packing maximum sustained winds of 225 km per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 260 kph.

Authorities warned Megi would still intensify before making landfall Monday in Cagayan province, where many residents in coastal villages have already moved to safer grounds.

"We are sure that Megi will still intensify so we urge everyone to prepare," said science undersecretary Graciano Yumul, head of the weather bureau. "To residents in the northern provinces, please make sure you that if you sleep tonight, one of you will be awake to monitor the situation," he added.

The weather bureau raised storm warning signal number four, the highest level, in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan, which would bear the brunt of the typhoon.
Nathaniel Servando, deputy administrator of the weather bureau, said Megi's winds could uproot large trees, severely disrupt power and communication services and damage infrastructure.

"Coconut plantations may suffer extensive damage, and rice and corn plantation may suffer severe losses," he added.

In Cagayan province, the office of civil defence said hundreds of residents in vulnerable areas have began to move to evacuation centres as the weather deteriorated.

"If we have to conduct forced evacuations, we will do it for their safety," civil defence regional director Norma Talosig said. "Our emphasis is on preemptive evacuation, which is easier than doing rescue work."

The military placed thousands of reserve officers and volunteers as well as helicopters on standby, while rescue boats and thousands of relief goods were pre-positioned near threatened areas.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 cyclones every year, killing thousands of people.
Last year, nearly 1,000 people were killed in back-to-back cyclones that triggered the worst floods in decades in Manila and dozens of landslides in the northern region.

(Published 17 October 2010, 12:19 IST)

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