A powerful typhoon shifted and abruptly gained strength yesterday as it blew closer to the northeastern Philippines, prompting evacuations from high-risk villages and the capital, which could be sideswiped by the storm, officials said.
Typhoon Noru was swirling at sea about 115km east of Infanta town in Quezon Province, with sustained winds of 195kph and gusts of up to 240kph.
While barreling toward the archipelago, Noru changed track southward, pushed down by a high-pressure area to its north. It gained considerable strength, transforming from a storm with sustained winds of 85kph on Saturday into a super typhoon just 24 hours later in an “explosive intensification” at sea, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration head Vicente Malano said.
The rapid intensification as it neared land was “unprecedented” storm behavior, weather forecaster Robb Gile said.
Thousands of villagers in Quezon Province were evacuated from the typhoon’s path, as well as from mountainside villages that are prone to landslides and flash floods, and in coastal communities that could be hit by tidal surges as high as 3m.
“The combined effects of a storm surge and high waves breaking along the coast may cause life-threatening and damaging inundation or flooding,” the weather agency warned.
In Manila’s seaside district of Tondo, some residents left their homes with bags of belongings and hurriedly walked to a nearby evacuation center as the sky darkened and rains started to fall.
Provincial disaster management head Melchor Avenilla said law enforcers were under orders to forcibly move people who refuse to leave their homes.
“So far we’ve been able to do this by just appealing to people,” Avenilla said.
The typhoon’s eye could pass about 40km to 50km from metro Manila, “which is nearly a direct hit,” Malano said.
Fishing boats and inter-island and cargo ferries were restricted to port as a precaution, the coast guard said.
Cargo trucks and more than 2,500 passengers were stranded. More than 30 flights at Manila’s airport, mostly bound for domestic destinations, were canceled.
The typhoon was forecast to sweep through Luzon Island last night and into the South China Sea today. It is on track to hit Vietnam later in the week while maintaining its powerful winds.
Noru comes nine months after another super typhoon devastated swathes of the country, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Additional reporting by AFP
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of