Typhoon Melor slams into Philippines: 725,000 evacuated

Typhoon Melor (known as 'Nona' locally) slammed Monday into the eastern Philippines, canceling flights, schools, and ferries. 

(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Government meteorologists monitor from a satellite image of Typhoon Melor fat the weather bureau center in suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines as it hits the eastern Philippines Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Thousands of residents evacuated as the typhoon slammed into the eastern Philippines, where flood- and landslide-prone communities are bracing for destructive winds, heavy rains and coastal floods of up to 4 meters (13 feet), officials said Monday.

About 725,000 people fled their homes and communities braced for heavy rain and coastal floods of up to 4 meters (13 feet) as Typhoon Melor (known as 'Nona' locally) slammed Monday into the eastern Philippines, officials said. Classes, flights and ferry trips were suspended.

The government's weather bureau said the typhoon was packing winds of 150 kilometers (95 miles) per hour with gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph), and heavy to intense rain within its 300-kilometer (185-mile) diameter. It made landfall Monday morning on tiny Batag Island in the eastern Philippines, and a second landfall was expected in Sorsogon province.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 724,839 residents of three eastern provinces were evacuated Sunday and early Monday before the storm's arrival.

The largest numbers of evacuees were in Sorsogon and Albay provinces.

Bernardo Alejandro, a regional civil defense official, said 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.

In Albay, about 590,000 residents were evacuated as a precaution, including tens of thousands from around Mount Mayon volcano, where volcanic mudflows are an added threat, the national council said.

"The people here are very vulnerable but they are safe," Albay Gov. Joey Salceda told ABS-CBN News Channel in an interview on Monday. 

Edgar Posadas, a civil defense official in the Eastern Visayas region, said 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.

"Melor is a very compact typhoon, so that will prevent its most devastating impacts from extending too far from its center," AccuWeather meteorologist Adam Douty told Reuters.

Filipino media reported that a total of 40 domestic flights bound for  Manila, Legazpi, Virac, Tacloban, Cebu, Naga and Calbayog were cancelled due to "Nona."

A total of 7,934 passengers, 62 vessels, 11 motor boats and 552 rolling cargoes were stranded due to rough seas.

About 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon on record to make landfall, left more than 7,300 people dead and missing as it leveled entire villages and swept walls of seawater into parts of the central Philippines.

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