Powerful typhoon slams Philippines; some domestic flights cancelled

MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of residents evacuated as Typhoon Melor slammed into the eastern Philippines, where flood- and landslide-prone communities are bracing for destructive winds, heavy rains and coastal floods of up to 4 metres (13 feet), officials said Monday. Classes and flights were suspended.

Some domestic flights have been cancelled and nearly 8,000 sea travelers are stranded in ports.

The government’s weather bureau said the typhoon is packing winds of 150 kilometres (95 miles) per hour and gusts of 185 kph (115 mph), and carrying heavy to intense rains within its 300-kilometre (185-mile) diameter. It made landfall Monday morning in tiny Batag Island in the eastern Philippines, and a second landfall is expected in Sorsogon province.

Bernardo Alejandro, a regional civil defence official, said thousands of residents were evacuated in the six provinces comprising the Bicol region, and that relief goods had been put in place.

In Sorsogon, he said, more than 700 people voluntarily went to shelters Sunday night, but the provincial governor then ordered evacuations Monday for residents who had refused to leave their homes despite the risks of floods and landslides.

About 120,000 Sorsogon residents live in the typhoon-affected area, and many are expected to move in with neighbours or relatives with homes on higher ground during the flooding.

About 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon on record to make landfall, left more than 7,300 people dead and missing as it levelled entire villages and swept walls of seawater into parts of the central Philippines.