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Philippines Evacuates Thousands as Typhoon Rammasun Nears

Two people were killed by lightning in the Philippines as the nation evacuated thousands, shut schools and canceled flights before Typhoon Rammasun’s arrival.

The storm, locally known as Glenda, may hit Manila tomorrow morning with maximum winds of 135 kilometers per hour, “enough to topple trees and electric posts,” Aldczar Aurelio, a forecaster at the state weather bureau, said by phone.

Rammasun was at 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Legazpi City in Albay province at 5 p.m. local time, with maximum winds of 130 kilometers and gusts of as much as 160 kph, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said on its website. Rainfall may be moderate to intense or as much as 20 millimeters per hour within the typhoon’s 500-kilometer diameter. Tonight, the storm is likely to make landfall in Albay, about 450 kilometers south of Manila.

“I reiterate, the objective has to be to minimize the casualties and the hardship of our people,” President Benigno Aquino told officials at a national disaster council meeting in Manila. Warnings should be explained to the public, he said.

A 45-year-old woman and her 18-year-old son who were gathering grass for use as cow-feed were struck by lightning yesterday in Batangas, a province south of Manila, the police said. Three fishermen today were missing off the island province of Catanduanes. At least 60,000 families have been evacuated in Bicol region in the southern part of the main Luzon island, Rafaelito Alejandro, director of the region’s civil defense office, said by phone.

Flights, Schools

Schools will remain shut in at least 30 areas, including in more than a dozen cities and towns in Metropolitan Manila. Thirty-four local and international flights have been canceled, while more than 5,800 passengers are stranded at various ports as sea travel is suspended, the state’s disaster-risk agency said.

The Philippines, battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, is the second most-at-risk nation globally from tropical storms, behind Japan, according to Maplecroft, a research company based in Bath, England. As many as 10 typhoons may develop or enter the Philippines in the third quarter, according to the weather bureau.

Flashfloods, Landslides

Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm in the world to hit land, killed more than 6,200 people in the Philippines in November and left more than a thousand missing. Haiyan, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, had top winds of almost 196 miles (315 kilometers) per hour and winds gusted to as high as 235 mph, the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said. Rammasun passed very close Northern Samar, one of the provinces hardest hit by Haiyan.

Flashfloods and landslides in low-lying and mountainous areas may be expected, while storm surges with height of as much as three meters may hit coastal areas, the weather bureau said. The storm may tomorrow bring to Manila winds stronger than storm Xangsane, which left at least 184 people dead after hitting Manila and nearby provinces in 2006, weather forecaster Rene Paciente said yesterday.

Manila Electric Co., the nation’s largest power retailer which supplies the Philippine capital and nearby provinces, warned of blackouts. The company, in a statement, said it asked billboard owners to roll their billboards up to avoid causing outages.

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