A strong typhoon was heading towards the southern Philippines today, and hundreds of people were evacuating coastal areas in the storm’s path.

Fishermen and ships were warned not to venture out to sea.

Typhoon Bopha is expected to hit land tomorrow morning but would not directly hit Manila if it stays on its current path, government weather forecaster Jori Loiz said.

The storm has sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour (109 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 210 kph (130 mph). Its centre was 550 kilometers (342 miles) southeast of Surigao del Sur province’s Hinatuan township on Monday morning. It is moving at 24 kph (15 mph).

Hundreds of residents of islands and other high-risk areas in Surigao del Sur have been asked to go to evacuation centres to avert casualties, Office of Civil Defense regional official Amado Posas said. Classes have been suspended, dump trucks have been readied to ferry more residents when needed, he added.

Posas said some residents have been reluctant to leave their homes because the province was sunny on Monday morning. It was not yet clear how many have already evacuated, but he said an estimated 600 to 800 people were ordered to evacuate from islands in the archipelago nation.

Benito Ramos, who heads the government’s disaster response agency, says provincial officials have placed food packs and other emergency equipment in areas where the typhoon may pass.

(This article was published on December 3, 2012)
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