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Typhoon Koppu Hits Philippines


Weather Bureau forecaster Aldczar Aurelio gestures during a media briefing on Typhoon Koppu, Oct. 17, 2015 at suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines.

Koppu, a powerful, slow-moving typhoon, hit the northern Philippines early Sunday, downing power and communication lines with powerful winds and rains that could last up to three days.

There were no reports of casualties as Typhoon Koppu made landfall in the remote coastal town of Casiguran in Aurora province.

Weather forecasters say Koppu will remain over the island of Luzon for three days due to a high pressure area in the north and another typhoon in the northwest Pacific.

Forecasters predict Typhoon Koppu could dump 600 millimeters of rain over the next several days.

Alexander Pama, who heads the government's main disaster agency said Koppu "has slowed almost to a crawl. We're hoping it would speed up and spare us sooner."

Authorities have canceled flights and local officials have conducted “forced evacuations” of coastal areas and river banks known to be hit by floods and landslides to minimize loss of life.

The storm had sustained winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour.

The biggest threat could come from rain and the resulting floods, landslides and storm surges, according to forecasters.

Koppu is not expected to hit the capital, Manila, directly. It will instead likely sweep across the northern end of Luzon.

President Benigno Aquino on Friday appeared on national television to warn residents about the storm.

"It is clear, your government is here in order to ensure that we will meet our goal of zero casualties. But I must emphasize, each local government unit, community, and Filipino that will be affected has the duty to cooperate in the collective action we are taking to overcome the challenges ahead," he said.

It is the first time Aquino has issued a nationally televised warning about a typhoon since November 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan swept through the country, leaving more than 7,000 people dead or missing.

About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, many of them deadly.