Residents flee as super typhoon approaches Philippines
Manila, Philippines (CNN) – Thousands of residents of low-lying areas of eastern provinces in the Philippines have been moved by authorities as super typhoon Nock-ten nears the country.
Officials say over 1,000 families have been evacuated from the eastern province of Camarines Sur, and the provinces of Catanduanes and Albay have been declared under a “state of imminent danger/disaster.”
The storm is growing stronger as it bears down on the Bicol region, tropical storm monitors report. The storm is expected to make landfall in the evening of Christmas Day in Catanduanes, an island province in the Bicol region.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) reports that Nock-ten, locally known as Nina, currently has maximum sustained winds of 250 kph (155 mph) and gusts of up to 305 kph (190 mph).
The storm’s last recorded location was 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Catanduanes, and it is forecast to move west at 15 kph (9 mph).
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reports 11,476 passengers, over 1,000 cargo ships and over a dozen other vessels were stranded in various ports in the region.
The Philippines’ tropical cyclone warning signal number 4 has been hoisted for Catanduanes and neighboring Camarines Sur. The warning signal, the second-highest level on the scale of alerts, indicates the storm could cause “heavy damage” to high-risk structures. Rice, corn and coconut plantations will likely suffer severe losses.
The Philippines Atmospheric, Geological and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reports a possible storm surge of two to three meters in coastal areas.
Forecasters warned that the storm could bring lashing winds and dump heavy rain in several areas across of the country, including the capital, Manila.
There are fears that Nock-ten could potentially bring flooding to the capital, one of the most densely populated urban centers of the country, during the busy holiday weekend.
PAGASA reports that the typhoon will cause moderate to heavy rainfall in a 500-kilometer (311-mile) radius.
The typhoon warning center projects that the typhoon will gradually weaken “as the system begins to interact with land,” but warned it could still retain typhoon intensity.
The governor of the eastern seaboard province of Camarines Sur, Miguel Villafuerte, posted on Twitter that nearly 50,000 family evacuations had been scheduled by 7 p.m. Saturday local time (6 p.m. in Thailand).
Camarines Sur is roughly 181 kilometers (112 miles ) away from the projected landfall location of the typhoon but also is a potential target.
As an added incentive to push people out of their homes and into shelters ahead of Christmas in this Catholic-majority country, Villafuerte has promised to provide the traditional dish of lechon (roasted pig) for his constituents if they proceed to evacuation centers, CNN affiliate ABS-CBN reported.
The Philippines has been battered by devastating typhoons in recent years, most notably Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 – considered to be among the strongest storms to make landfall. Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people and forced nearly 4 million people from their homes.
SOURCE: CNN’s Euan McKirdy, Madison Park and Azadeh Ansari with Taylor Ward and Derek Van Dam contributing to this report.