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Philippines evacuation ordered as typhoon causes chaos

Typhoon Nesat reaches land, leading to power cuts and travel disruption

The Guardian, Tuesday 27 September 2011

    Children leave for home as the approaching Typhoon Nesat forced classes to be suspended in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

    A powerful typhoon slammed ashore on Tuesday in the eastern Philippines where authorities ordered more than 100,000 people to seek shelter.

    Heavy rains and winds of up to 106 miles (170km) per hour resulted from Typhoon Nesat as it made landfall before dawn over the mountainous eastern provinces of Isabela and Aurora which face the Pacific Ocean.

    With its immense 400-mile cloud band, the typhoon threatened the entire main Luzon Island on its path across the Philippines. It is expected to reach the South China Sea late on Wednesday or early on Thursday and then head toward southern China.

    Heavy downpours and wind prompted the closure of schools and universities in the capital, Manila, while scores of domestic flights were cancelled and ferries were grounded, stranding thousands.

    One person was injured in a tornado and more than 50 fishermen had to be rescued along eastern shores when their boats overturned in choppy seas, the government disaster agency reported. Forecasters warned of waves measuring 12ft high.

    Power was cut in many parts of Luzon, including in Manila, where hospitals, hotels and emergency services used generators. Branches and torn tarpaulins littered the flooded streets.

    About 112,000 people were ordered to leave their homes in five towns prone to flash floods and landslides in central Albay province. By Monday, more than 50,000 had moved to government-run evacuation centres and the homes of relatives, officials said.

    "We can't manage typhoons, but we can manage their effects," Albay governor Joey Salceda said.

    Authorities were monitoring farming communities at the base of Mayon volcano in Albay. Tons of ash have been deposited on Mayon's slopes by past eruptions, and mudslides caused by a typhoon in 2006 buried entire villages, leaving about 1,600 people dead and missing.

    The typhoon bore down on the Philippines exactly two years after nearly 500 people died in the worst flooding in decades in Manila, a city of 12 million people, when a tropical storm hit.

    Residents commemorated the anniversary on Monday by offering prayers and planting trees.

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