Tens of thousands of people in the Philippines hunkered down in evacuation centres while three people were reported missing yesterday as a typhoon pounded its eastern coast amid warnings of giant storm surges and heavy floods.
The eye of Typhoon Rammasun struck Legazpi city in the eastern Bicol region in the early evening, with Manila and other heavily populated regions expecting to be hit on today afternoon, the state weather service said.
"Roofing sheets are flying off the tops of houses here... the wind is whistling," Joey Salceda, the governor of Albay province in Bicol said over ABS-CBN television.
He said there had been no reports of deaths while damage to the region -- an impoverished farming and fishing region of 5.4 million people -- was expected to be "moderate".
The Philippines is hit by about 20 major storms a year, many of them deadly. The Southeast Asian archipelago is often the first major landmass to be struck after storm build above the warm Pacific Ocean waters.
In November Super Typhoon Haiyan unleashed giant seven-metre high storm surges that devastated the coasts of the eastern islands of Samar and Leyte, killing up to 7,300 people in one of the nation's worst ever natural disasters.
More than 96,000 families were moved to evacuation centres yesterday as a precaution, Social Welfare Minister Corazon Soliman said.
The government declared a school holiday for areas in the typhoon's path, while ferry services were also shut down and dozens of flights cancelled.