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Typhoon Megi Heads for South China Sea

Motorists drive past a filling station which was toppled by typhoon Megi (local name "Juan"), 18 Oct 2010, at Cauayan, Isabela province, northeastern Philippines

The strongest cyclone to hit the Philippines in years has left the island nation and is building strength as it makes its way across the South China Sea.

The Philippine weather service (PAGASA) says Super Typhoon Megi is now about 220 kilometers east of Tuguegarao City.

Megi crashed ashore with fierce winds and torrential rain around midday Monday, killing at least one person when he fell in a river in the far north. The Philippine weather service says it is now heading toward China's south with maximum sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour.

China has issued its second-highest alert for the typhoon, warning that it could be the strongest to affect the country this year.

Reports in the Philippines say winds tore roofs off houses and toppled electricity poles.

Philippine authorities ordered thousands of people in Cagayan and Isabella provinces on Luzon island to move to safer areas.

The government said it had prepared for the storm by sending food packs, rescue boats and other equipment to the north to help with eventual relief efforts.

Residents were also urged to stock up on food in Manila, 320 kilometers to the south.

Weather officials say Megi is this year's strongest typhoon.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.