Lakhs flee as powerful typhoon slams Philippines
More than 700,000 people in the central Philippines fled to safer areas for fear of giant waves, floods or landslides as Typhoon Melor slammed into the archipelago nation today, officials said.
Melor brushed the northern tip of Samar, a farming island of 1.5 million people, early today with winds gusting up to 185 kilometres per hour, the state weather bureau said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Samar was among areas devastated in 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, when giant waves wiped out entire communities and left 7,350 people dead or missing.
Authorities warned that Melor’s powerful winds might whip up four-metre-high waves, blow off tin roofs and uproot trees. They said heavy rain within its 300-kilometre diameter could trigger floods and landslides.
In Albay province in the southeast of Luzon island, almost 600,000 people were evacuated due to fears that heavy rain could cause mudslides on the slopes of nearby Mayon Volcano, according to the national disaster monitoring office.
Residents carrying bags of clothes and water jugs clambered onto army trucks in Albay’s Legazpi City as authorities sounded an evacuation alarm, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.
Huge waves crashed into the city’s deserted boulevard as palm trees swayed from the wind.
“The whole province is now a ghost town. We shut all establishments. No school, no work,” Albay governor Joey Salceda said on ABS-CBN television.
Albay, a province of 1.2 million people, has become a model for disaster preparedness. It recorded zero casualties from Typhoon Hagupit last December due to prompt evacuations.
An additional 130,000 people were evacuated in Sorsogon province south of Albay.
The typhoon is expected to cut across the central heartlands in the early hours of Tuesday before heading out to the South China Sea in the west.