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A powerful typhoon heading towards the northern Philippines is gaining strength

MANILA, Philippines – A powerful typhoon moved and suddenly gained strength in an “explosive intensification” on Sunday as it approached the northeast of the Philippines, prompting evacuations of high-risk villages and even the capital, which could be swept away by the storm, officials said. .

Typhoon Noru was swirling out to sea about 115 kilometers (71 miles) east of the city of Infante in Quezon province with sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 240 km/h (149 mph) in the middle of the afternoon. Forecasters expect it to crash into the coast later on Sunday.

Blowing towards the archipelago, Noru moved south as it was pushed down by an area of ​​high pressure to the north. It picked up considerable strength, going from a storm that had sustained winds of 85 kph (53 mph) on Saturday to a super typhoon just 24 hours later in an “explosive intensification” at sea, Vicente Malano said. , which heads the country’s weather agency. Associated Press.

Thousands of villagers have been evacuated – some forcibly – from the typhoon’s path, along with mountainside villages prone to landslides and flash floods and in coastal communities that could be affected by tidal surges reaching 3 meters (about 10 feet) in Quezon Province, including Polillo Island and neighboring Aurora Province.

“The combined effects of storm surges and high waves breaking along the coast can cause life-threatening and damaging flooding or flooding,” the weather agency warned.

Melchor Avenilla Jr., who heads the Quezon Disaster Response Office, said law enforcement has orders to forcibly move people who refuse to leave their homes.

“But so far we’ve been able to do it just by appealing to people,” Avenilla told the AP by phone from Quezon.

Several provinces and cities, including the densely populated capital Manila, suspended classes and government work on Sunday and Monday. The eye of the typhoon could pass about 40 to 50 kilometers (25 to 30 miles) from metro Manila, “which is almost a direct hit,” Malano said.

Fishing boats and inter-island and cargo ferries have been restricted to port as a precaution, the Coast Guard said, blocking cargo trucks and more than 2,500 passengers in provinces expected to be hit by the typhoon.

More than 30 flights at Manila airport, mostly to domestic destinations, have been canceled.

The typhoon is expected to cross the main island of Luzon overnight before starting to blow into the South China Sea on Monday, forecasters said.

About 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year. The archipelago also lies within the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a region along much of the circumference of the Pacific Ocean where numerous volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur, making the nation of Asia Southeast one of the most disaster-prone in the world.

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones recorded in the world, left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, leveled entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million of people in the central Philippines – well south of Noru’s path.

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