Saturday, March 28, 2020
March 28, 2020

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One dead, thousands displaced in Philippines as storm nears


At least one person has died in the Philippines and tens of thousands have been evacuated as Typhoon Kammuri moved closer to the main Luzon island.

Kammuri has gained strength, now packing maximum winds of 165 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 230 kph, the nation’s weather bureau said. The 20th storm to enter the Philippines this year is following a track similar to typhoon Rammasun in July 2014, which killed 106 people in the southeast Asian country and damaged properties worth 38.6 billion pesos ($759 million).

More than 50 areas are on storm signal 3, the third-highest in a five-level warning system, before it hits land over Bicol region as early as Monday evening. Under signal 3, wind of as much as 170 kph – strong enough to topple coconut trees and destroy rice and corn crops – may be expected in 18 hours.

Metro Manila and nearly a hundred other areas in Luzon and Visayas are under signal 2. Heavy rains and winds due to the typhoon are expected to be felt in the capital starting Tuesday morning, prompting class suspensions.

More than 217,000 people have fled their homes in Bicol, many of them staying in evacuation centers, authorities said.

The Manila airport will be shut from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Tuesday in preparation for expected onslaught of Kammuri, the Transportation Department said. Philippine Airlines Inc., Cebu Air Inc. and AirAsia Group have suspended more than 380 flights, according to the airport authority’s Facebook page.

The storm can have a “high humanitarian impact,” the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System said on its website, putting a population of 9.6 million people at risk.

The Philippines is hosting the 30th Southeast Asian Games that will run through Dec. 11. Organizers have said contingency plans are in place should the event face disruption. Windsurfing, originally scheduled for Sunday, has been reset as have other outdoor events, ABS-CBN News reported.

Kammuri is forecast to exit Philippine waters on Thursday, the weather bureau said.