Saturday, May 18, 2024

Super typhoon Noru pummels Philippines

Thousands of people have been evacuated and government offices have been closed as a super typhoon bashes the eastern islands of the Philippines.

Typhoon Noru has caused gusts of up to 240 km/h on the main island Luzon, where more than half of the country’s 110 million population lives.

Forecasters say the storm experienced an “explosive intensification” as it made landfall west of Luzon.

The storm could cause landslides, flash flooding, and dangerous storm surges.

More than 8,400 people have been evacuated from its path, and officials have issued warnings of “serious flooding” in areas of the capital Manila.

The storm’s speed increased by 90 km/h in 24 hours. Weather forecaster Robb Gile told news agency AFP that its increased speed was “unprecedented.”

The Philippine weather service has issued a wind signal five for Luzon, the highest warning level, which marks Noru as a super typhoon.

Richard Gordon, chairman of the Red Cross in the Philippines, told the BBC that heavy rainfalls had filled many of the country’s dams, leading to a risk of flooding.

In Quezon Province, east of Manila, fishermen have been prevented from heading to sea, and there were reports of some areas being without power.

Flights and ferry services have been cancelled. On Luzon, President Bongbong Marcos suspended all government work, and school classes were cancelled.

Authorities warned of dangerous storm surges along the eastern coast, as well as heavy agricultural losses.

Trading on the country’s stock exchange will be suspended on Monday, and Marcos warned that the energy ministry had placed on high alert all energy-related industries in the county.

Thousands of volunteers are monitoring river levels, bridges, and mountains for landslides, said Dick Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.

Information will be crucial in getting help to where it is needed, he said.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, is highly vulnerable to storms. It sees an annual average of 20 tropical storms.

An estimated 400 people died when Typhoon Rai hit the country in December 2021.

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical storms ever recorded, killed some 6,300 people.

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