Philippines: Mitag grows into a typhoon

This could be quite bad. My wife has a house in Legazpi. It will probably be flooded again as it was last year. The recent rains and the huge amount of volcanic ash on Mayon will produce gigantic mudslides. There are always some people who refuse to relocate. After these typhoons it is often weeks and weeks before power gets back. My sister in law is in a low area of Legaspi so they will probably have to retreat to the second floor for a while or wade around in the kitchen! Lets hope there is little or no loss of life.

Mitag grows into a typhoon as it tracks toward the Philippines
Last Updated: Thursday, November 22, 2007 | 7:43 AM ET
The Associated Press
A tropical storm gained strength and developed into a typhoon Thursday as it headed toward an eastern Philippine region ravaged last year by flash floods and volcanic mudslides that killed more than 1,000 people, officials said.

A little girl sits with merchandise protected by an umbrella on a pushcart in Manila as typhoon Mitag approches the Philippines on Thursday.
(Pat Roque/Associated Press)
Typhoon Mitag was packing 120-km/h winds with gusts of up to 150 km/h as it blew westward from the Philippine Sea toward the Bicol region around midday, chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

It could become a "super typhoon," with winds of more than 222 km/h, by the time it makes landfall, expected this weekend, he said.

Recent rains have already saturated the ground around Mayon volcano in Bicol, and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, worried about a repeat of last year's disaster, ordered mass evacuations in the typhoon's expected path and cut short her trip to Singapore, where she was attending an Asian summit.

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"It's been raining for many days in some areas, and these are ripe for landslides," said Glenn Rabonza, administrator of the Office of Civil Defence.

Disaster officials said about 4,000 people already have moved to temporary shelters in four towns in Albay province and one town in nearby Sorsogon province, both of which are in Bicol.

Cedric Daep, executive officer of Albay's provincial disaster office, said full evacuation of the most threatened communities along the coastline and in the foothills of the Mayon volcano will begin Thursday afternoon.

Rabonza warned that storm surges from a powerful typhoon could generate waves three to nine metres high that could wreak havoc on coastal villages.

Cruz said if the typhoon doesn't change direction, it will make landfall in Bicol by Saturday morning. But the storm could also veer northwest and hit Quezon province, north of Bicol, the next day.

Officials estimate up to 200,000 people may have to be evacuated from Albay, which last year bore the brunt of typhoon Durian that triggered flash floods and unleashed tons of volcanic debris, wiping out entire communities and killing more than 1,000 people.

About the same number of people died in 2004 in Quezon when it was hit by successive storms and typhoons.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has suspended classes so some schools can be used as temporary shelters.

Vietnam also braced for tropical storm Hagibis, expected to hit the country's southern region Saturday, the government said.

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