5 Apr 2015

Former typhoon crosses Philippines coast

4:31 pm on 5 April 2015

Former Typhoon Maysak has crossed the coast of the northern Philippines, where thousands of people were evacuated ahead of the storm's arrival.

A NASA satellite image showing former Typhoon Maysak over the Philippines.

A NASA satellite image showing former Typhoon Maysak over the Philippines. Photo: AFP / NASA

Hundreds of people in the north of the main Philippine island of Luzon have left evacuation centres and returned home after Maysak weakened significantly.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council director Alexander Pama said there had been no reports of casualties as residents in the provinces of Isabela and Aurora emerged from shelters.

However, he warned people in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes to remain vigilant because the storm could still bring heavy rains, flash floods and landslides.

Maysak, which began as a Super Typhoon in the Pacific Ocean, reached the north-east coast of the main island of Luzon with winds of 55 kilometres per hour, chief state weather forecaster Esperanza Cayanan said.

"Our projection is that it will weaken further [as it crosses over Luzon's mountainous interior]," Ms Cayanan said.

State weather forecaster Jun Galang said "at those lower intensities, we can eliminate the threat posed by storm surges", referring to giant tsunami-like waves that had prompted local officials to evacuate coastal villages in the area.

Forecasters said although Maysak had been downgraded to a much weaker tropical storm, the threat of significant damage remained.

Ahead of the storm's arrival, meteorologists had warned the former typhoon would bring moderate to heavy rains and peak winds reaching 95 kilometres per hour.

Eighteen provinces were placed under a storm alert and were advised to prepare flash floods, storm surges and landslides.

Sea travel in the region was cancelled, stranding more than 600 passengers in major eastern ports, while several airports were closed and flights cancelled.

Some 24,000 people from the coastal province of Aurora, where the storm was projected to make landfall, were evacuated, officials said.

As a super typhoon, Maysak battered the Federated States of Micronesia in the central Pacific as a category five storm, but was forecast to weaken further as it crosses the main Philippine island of Luzon.

The Philippines had been wary about former Super Typhoon Maysak, after 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.

As a super typhoon, Maysak battered the Federated States of Micronesia in the central Pacific as a category five storm.

The category five system tore through two of the country's four states this week, killing five people, destroying infrastructure, contaminating water supplies and displacing about 7000 people.

Damage caused by Typhoon Maysak in Ulithi, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia

Damage caused by Typhoon Maysak in Ulithi, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia Photo: Brad Holland / FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management

- ABC

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