15 Dec 2015

Typhoon Melor hits central Philippines

3:29 pm on 15 December 2015

Wide areas of the central Philippines have been plunged into darkness as powerful Typhoon Melor hits the archipelago, causing flooding, storm surges and forcing almost 800,000 people to evacuate their homes, officials say.

A young evacuee wades through flooded school grounds while others look on from a school building being used as an evacuation center in the city of Legaspi in Albay province, south of Manila on December 14, 2015,

A young evacuee wades through flooded school grounds in the city of Legaspi in Albay, south of Manila on Monday. Photo: AFP

Known locally as Nona, the storm - packing winds of 140km/h - was about 40km north-northeast of Romblon Island early on Tuesday, moving west and weakening.

"Melor will continue to weaken as it crosses the central Philippines into Tuesday," weather provider Accuweather said. "However, damaging wind gusts higher than 130km/h will target the rest of southern Luzon to Mindoro."

Romblon residents reported heavy rain and strong winds from midnight. Power was cut as transmission lines and electric posts came down.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Alexander Pama said nearly 800,000 people had been evacuated to shelter areas.

"So far, we have not received any report of typhoon-related casualties," he said.

Media reported three people had been killed on Samar Island, where Melor first made landfall on Monday, although this could not immediately be confirmed.

More than 700,000 people have fled as the storm approaches amid threats of giant waves, floods and landslides. Here, waves cross a coastal road in Legaspi, Albay, south of Manila on 14 December 2015.

Dozens of domestic flights and ferry services have been cancelled due to the storm. Photo: AFP

Power services in six central provinces were disrupted and emergency teams were assessing damage to agriculture and infrastructure, Mr Pama said.

Schools and some offices were closed. Dozens of domestic flights and ferry services were cancelled, and the fishing fleet took shelter due to waves as high as 14m.

Another potential tropical system will hit the southern Philippines later this week, Accuweather said.

An average of 20 typhoons pass through the country every year. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines, killing more than 6300 people and leaving 1.4 million homeless.

- Reuters

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