24,000 to be evacuated as typhoon closes in on Philippines


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A NOAA satellite image of Super Typhoon Maysak making its way towards the Philippines A NOAA satellite image of Super Typhoon Maysak making its way towards the Philippines
Around 24,000 people from the Philippines were being evacuated Saturday with Typhoon Maysak a day away from potentially striking the country's northeast coast, officials said.
Storm surges, flash floods and landslides remained potential threats even though Maysak, once a super-typhoon, has now weakened with maximum sustained winds of 160 kilometres (99 miles) per hour, they said.
"We plan to move people out of coastal villages," Nigel Lontoc, a senior civil defence official for the region, told AFP.
In all, some 24,000 people from the coastal province of Aurora, where the typhoon is projected to make landfall early Sunday, would be evacuated, Lontoc added.
Having started out in the Pacific Ocean, Maysak is expected to weaken further as it crosses the main Philippine island of Luzon Sunday, according to state weather forecaster Alczar Aurelio.
Aurelio said large waves of up to two metres (6.6 feet) are expected to hit the area.
Such storm surges caused many of the fatalities when Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the country in November, 2013, leaving more than 7,350 dead or missing.
About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, many of them deadly, but such weather disturbances are rare in April, the height of the tropical Asian nation's dry season.
Maysak is forecast to strike at the tail-end of a long Easter holiday that saw millions of Filipinos flock to the beaches to escape the heat.
Retired army general Jovie Narcise, who is visiting the Aurora town of Dingalan, said the skies there were clear but that there were big waves crashing along the shore.
Small outrigger fishing boats had been pulled up and stored about 30 metres away from the water to keep them from being swept out to sea, he said.
"There are lots of tourists arriving in the area but they are going to resorts situated on higher ground," Narcise told AFP.
Social Welfare undersecretary Vilma Cabrera told a news conference in Manila that about 10,000 tourists were warned Friday to stay away from the Aurora beaches.
"We have asked the tourists (in Aurora) to stay in their hotels and avoid the water," said Lontoc, the regional disaster official.
Maysak was tracked about 450 kilometres southeast of Aurora's coast at 10:00 am (0200 GMT) and was moving northwest at 22 kilometres an hour.
Maysak last week ravaged the Federated States of Micronesia, leaving at least five dead, thousands homeless and crops destroyed.

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