Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Philippines braces for possible super typhoon onslaught

AP , MANILA

Typhoon Durian, packing winds of up 150km per hour, headed toward the eastern Philippines yesterday, where residents prepared for the possibilty of floods and landslides.

The fourth typhoon to hit the northeastern Philippines in as many months, Durian was expected to intensify further before reaching the Philippines, passing close to the island Catanduanes and slamming ashore over Aurora Province tomorrow, forecasters said.

The Philippine weather bureau warned that the dangerous cyclone -- named after the pungent fruit native to Southeast Asia -- could become a "super typhoon" with winds stronger than 200kph and could reach metropolitan Manila.

"For the next day or two, it will continue to strengthen and could reach a super typhoon category," forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

He said the central Bicol region, about 300km southeast of Manila, was already feeling the effects of the typhoon with rains and winds.

Cruz warned residents in low-lying and coastal areas to watch out for storm surges, or big waves generated by strong winds.

In late September, Typhoon Xangsane left 230 people dead and missing in and around Manila.

Typhoon Cimaron killed 19 people and injured 58 others late last month.

Earlier this month, Chebi sliced through the central Luzon region, killing one.

About 20 typhoons and tropical storms lash the Philippines each year.

Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi city in northeastern Albay Province, one of the areas ravaged by the previous typhoons, said disaster response agencies were working overtime in order to prepare for the possibility of emergencies.

"Electric power hasn't even been restored to some villages. But now that the threat is here, we have no choice but to prepare," Rosal told Manila Radio DZRH.

In central Sorsogon Province, Mayor Guillermo So said the coast guard had barred ferries from leaving the ports in order to prevent damage and fatalities during the expected onslaught of bad weather.

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