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Evacuations in Philippines as 'Super Typhoon' Nears

Philippine National Police and volunteer rescue units practice search and rescue operations, 17 Oct 2010

A so-called "super typhoon" is bearing down on the northern Philippines, prompting evacuations of thousands of people from coastal areas threatened with destructive winds, rain and storm surges.

Authorities say villagers began moving to higher ground voluntarily Sunday in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabella on the northern tip of Luzon island.

Typhoon Megi was moving west toward Luzon with maximum sustained winds of 250 kilometers an hour, making it a category five storm, the highest rating.

It was expected to make landfall on Monday morning local time. Philippine officials ordered schools along the storm's path to stay closed Monday and warned fishing vessels be taken out of harm's way.

Forecasters said Megi could uproot trees, destroy houses made of light materials, cause landslides and flooding. The Philippine 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.

It also urged residents in the area to stock up on food. Authorities said the super typhoon may cause significant damage to the region's rice crop.

Megi is expected to weaken slightly as it crosses Luzon before re-intensifying as it moves west over the South China Sea. China has issued its second-highest alert for the typhoon, warning that it could be the strongest to affect the country this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.