3 Oct 2009

Philippines braces for second typhoon

10:41 pm on 3 October 2009

Typhoon Parma has weakened slightly and changed course, easing the threat to the Philippines capital Manila and surrounding areas, still reeling from last weekend's deadly storm.

As Parma veered away from the most densely populated areas of the Philippines on Saturday, storm warnings were downgraded in the island of Luzon and lifted completely in Manila.

Weather officials say Parma, earlier described as a "super typhoon", has altered course and was now expected to clip the far north of the archipelago.

Parma - the strongest typhoon to hit the region since 2006 - brought rains and strong winds to the Philippines' eastern seaboard.

But it largely spared the capital and other densely populated areas on the west coast, where nearly 300 people were killed in floods a week ago from an earlier tropical storm.

A Programme Manager of World Vision office in the main island of Luzon, Fe Olonan, says Parma caused severe rainfall and heavy wind in Cagayan province, about 400km from the nation's capital, with winds gusting up to 210km an hour.

She says the government has called for the evacuation of families living next to the riverside, but it's unknown how many families that would be.

Meanwhile, she says about 600 families have already been evacuated to higher ground in the Philippines second largest province of Isabela.

On the eastern coast, about 2,600 people were left stranded because of impassable roads in the Bicol region and on the island of Catanduanes, relief officials said. But there were no reports of casualties.

Philippine authorities declared a nationwide calamity on Friday and evacuated 62,000 people from the eastern coast as Parma approached.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo earlier ordered the evacuation of coastal towns and other areas in the direct path of the typhoon, and thousands of people in Manila fled their homes.

Ms Arroyo said the governors of six northern provinces in the path of the approaching typhoon were told to evacuate low-lying and coastal areas that might be hit by torrential rain.

Last weekend Typhoon Ketsana brought devastation across South-East Asia, killing at least 293 people in the Philippines before moving on to kill 99 in Vietnam and 16 in Laos.

In Cambodia, at least 17 people have died following widespread flooding in the north, which has affected thousands of others and destroyed hundreds of homes.