Thousands Flee as Typhoon Threatens Philippines, Taiwan

Thousands Flee as Typhoon Threatens Philippines, TaiwanThousands Flee as Typhoon Threatens Philippines, Taiwan

More than 2,000 people were fleeing their homes as Typhoon Noul approached the northern Philippines on Sunday, triggering warnings of possible flash floods, landslides and tsunami-like storm surges.

The storm’s movement has slowed slightly but it has also strengthened to pack gusts of 220km per hour, said Esperanza Cayanan, chief of the government’s weather monitoring division. It was expected to hit the northern edge of the country’s main island of Luzon by late Sunday afternoon or evening, AFP reported.

In Taiwan, which is also in the storm’s predicted path, authorities warned sailors of strong winds and high waves and evacuated almost 1,000 tourists from an island off the southeast coast.

Cayanan said the northern Philippine Province of Cagayan was expected to feel the brunt of the typhoon later in the day when it made landfall there. “This is a very dangerous storm. It is the strongest so far this year,” said Rene Paciente, head of the marine weather division.

More than 2,000 people in Cagayan were being evacuated from coastal villages, said Norma Talosig, regional civil defence chief. “They have to evacuate to higher ground, not in their village. They are being assisted by the local governments using buses and trucks, even ambulances,” she said.

The national civil defense chief, Alexander Pama, said that given the possibility of storm surges of up to two meters, they were taking no chances. “There is no exact science in this. So we will stay on the safe side” by ordering evacuations in vulnerable areas, he said.