Typhoon lashes Philippines; 2,500 evacuated
A powerful typhoon slammed into the northeastern tip of the Philippines on Sunday, as about 2,500 residents in two provinces huddled in shelters following warnings by officials to evacuate coastal and mountainous villages.
Typhoon Noul, packing winds of 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 220 kph (136 mph), made landfall in Cagayan province's coastal town of Santa Ana late Sunday afternoon and was moving northwest at 17 kph (11 mph), the government's weather bureau said.
Around 2,500 residents were evacuated to safer grounds in Cagayan and Isabela provinces, and no casualties or damage were immediately reported, said Norma Talosig, the civil defense regional director. "Hopefully it brings only rain because we need rain," she said.
Public works personnel were using chain saws to clear roads of fallen trees in Cagayan's Gonzaga town, DZMM radio reported. Some towns in the province were without power.
Forecasters warned of 1.6-meter (1.75-yard) -high storm surges in Santa Ana, which also includes Palaui Island, with a population of about 30,000 people.
They said the typhoon was expected to weaken after hitting land, and to move faster as it rides strong surrounding winds. It is forecast to blow out of the country Tuesday morning and head toward southern Japan.
About 300 people who had fled to shelters near Mount Bulusan, southeast of Manila, returned home Sunday after the typhoon moved northward, sparing the province mudslides involving volcanic debris, said Joric dela Rosa, a civil defense worker in the region.
The coast guard suspended ferry services in areas affected by the typhoon, stranding more than 5,000 passengers.
About 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year. The strongest on record to make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, devastated the central Philippines in November 2013, claiming more than 7,300 lives.