Powerful typhoon churns toward Samar, Bicol

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A strong typhoon barreled toward the Philippines on Sunday, threatening the east coast with giant waves, flooding and landslides, civil defense officials warned.

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Forecasters said typhoon Nona (international code name: Melor) gained strength late Sunday prompting the weather bureau to place seven areas in Luzon and the Visayas under Public Storm Warning Signal No. 2.

Weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said that as of 4 p.m. yesterday, the eye of the typhoon was located at 440 km east of Catarman, Northern Samar. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 140 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 170 kph.

Quitlong said the typhoon is moving westward at 19 kph and maintaining its speed and movement. It is expected to make landfall in Sorsogon province at 9 a.m. on Monday.

“We should not underestimate the dangers posed by this storm,” civil defense chief Alexander Pama told a meeting of rescue officials.

The provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur have declared class suspensions in all levels on Monday as the storm threatens Samar provinces and the Bicol Region.

Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Villafuerte said the class suspensions “will allow the schools to prepare their classrooms for the preemptive evacuation that will be implemented.”

This will also give time to the students’ families to focus on their preparations for the incoming storm, he added.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Albay also ordered the suspension of classes in all levels on Monday.

The storm was moving west-northwest over the Pacific Ocean on Sunday.

Food packs and other emergency items were stockpiled in the areas forecast to be hammered by Nona and the military was put on standby to evacuate people if necessary.

Heavy rain, flooding and landslides were forecast in areas within 150 kilometers of the storm’s eye between Monday and Wednesday.

Nona is expected to cut across Samar, Masbate, Marinduque and Mindoro islands before heading out to the South China Sea near Manila by Wednesday.

AFP AND PNA

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