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October 18, 2009

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Philippines braces for another typhoon

THE governor of a northern Philippine province said yesterday he had ordered residents to evacuate their already storm-ravaged areas ahead of a new typhoon after back-to-back storms in recent weeks killed more than 750 in the country.

Forecasters said Lupit - the Filipino word for cruel - had intensified overnight into a typhoon and by late afternoon yesterday was packing 140-kilometer-per-hour winds and gusts of up to 170 kilometers per hour.

The Philippines is still recovering from Tropical Storm Ketsana in late September, which triggered the worst flooding in Manila in over 40 years, and the October 3 landfall of Typhoon Parma, which lingered for a week while drenching the main island of Luzon. The two storms killed 773 people and affected more than 7 million.

The latest typhoon could spare the saturated northern Philippines and veer north toward Taiwan early next week, or it could track the same devastating path as Parma, chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

He said Lupit was slowing down over the sea east of Luzon, where it could further gain strength. It was about 1,000 kilometers east of Manila at 4pm yesterday.

In northern Benguet Province, where at least 288 were killed in Parma-triggered landslides, police officers were going house-to-house to tell people to leave the affected communities before the latest storm, Governor Nestor Fongwan said.

"Definitely, they must go," Fongwan said. The communities are about 210 kilometers north of the capital, Manila.

Other Benguet communities identified as hazardous also were ordered evacuated, Fongwan said. Military choppers were airlifting food supplies to areas unreachable by land to prepare for Lupit, a defence official added.


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