Thousands of people along the eastern Philippine coastline were moving to temporary shelters yesterday as a powerful typhoon packing strong winds and plenty of rain roared toward the country’s northeast.
Typhoon Songda was not expected to make landfall, but it will skirt along shores with winds of up to 150kph and rainfall of 30mm, the Philippine government weather bureau said.
“It has a big radius, so it can affect many areas, even if it does not make landfall,” forecaster Mario Palafox said.
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, killing hundreds of people and destroying crops, despite government efforts to minimize casualties and damage by ordering early evacuations.
Albay Province Governor Joey Salceda sent military trucks to begin moving 250,000 residents from coastal and landslide-prone villages and areas in the path of debris from the Mayon volcano. He also offered 5kg of rice as an incentive for each family that evacuates.
Government offices in the region were closed and flights canceled. More than 7,000 people were stranded in ports after the coast guard barred sea travel in areas with typhoon warnings.
In other provinces leading up to the northwest, officials have collected rubber boats and food supplies, and put rescuers on standby.
“Local government officials have enough time to prepare, so we hope we have” no casualties, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III left on a visit to Thailand yesterday, but instructed officials to send him regular updates.