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Over 700,000 People Evacuated as Typhoon Hits Philippines

Government weather forecaster Loriedin De La Cruz briefs the media on Typhoon Melor at the weather bureau center in suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila as it hits the eastern Philippines Monday, Dec. 14, 2015.

As many as 700,000 people have evacuated their homes in the central Philippines to escape the path of a powerful typhoon that made landfall Monday.

Typhoon Melor arrived in the village of Batag on Samar island with destructive winds of up to 185 kilometers an hour. Forecaster say Melor, which is known locally as Nona, is expected to cause huge ocean waves as much as four meters high, along with heavy rains, flooding and landslides within its 300 kilometer wide diameter.

Projected track of Typhoon Melor
Projected track of Typhoon Melor

The bulk of the evacuations happened in Albay province, where as many as 600,000 residents fled due to fears of landslides from the slopes of nearby Mayon volcano. Reuters reports dozens of domestic flights have been cancelled and hundreds of fishing boats have been ordered to remain in port.

Bernardo Alejandro, a regional civil defense official, told The Associated Press that many residents of Sorsogon voluntarily went to shelters Sunday night, but the provincial governor then ordered evacuations Monday for residents who had refused to leave their homes despite the risk of floods and landslides.

Samar island was one of the many areas devastated when Typhoon Haiyan struck the archipelago in November 2013, killing more than 7,300 people and washing away entire communities.

Edgar Posadas, a civil defense official in the Eastern Visayas region, told AP parts of Allen town in Northern Samar province were flooded, and strong winds tore off roofs and felled coconut trees.

He said no casualties had been reported even in the northern tip of the province, where the typhoon first made landfall, and that the evacuation of residents and preparedness of local officials had so far proved effective.

About 20 typhoons strike the Philippines each year.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.