A typhoon packing gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph) has made landfall into the eastern Philippines. The island’s power and communications have been seriously disrupted.
Typhoon Nina, known locally as Nock-Ten, made landfall on Catanduanes, a remote island of 250,000 inhabitants, just after 6 p.m. local time on Sunday (1000 UTC).
Nina packed sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (114 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 255 kilometers per hour at landfall. The typhoon continued west and made a second landfall over the Camarines Sur province and weakened slightly with sustained winds at 175 kilometers per hour. Forecasters warned of coastal waves as high as 2.5 meters (eight feet) on the coast.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The typhoon has a 500-kilometer wide rain band and is expected to follow a path westwards across the main island of Luzon before passing close to the capital, Manila, on Monday.
Christmas is the biggest holiday in the Philippines, which has Asia’s largest Roman Catholic population. That made it difficult for officials to get people’s attention to heed the warnings.
Governor Miguel Villafuerte of Camarines Sur province offered roast pig, a popular Christmas delicacy locally called “lechon,” in evacuation centers to entice villagers to move to emergency shelters.
“I know it’s Christmas … but this is a legit typhoon,” Villafuerte had tweeted on Christmas Eve. “Please evacuate, we’ll be having lechon at evacuation centers.”
In Catanduanes province, deputy Governor Shirley Abundo said she had ordered a forced evacuation of villagers, saying some “are really hard-headed, they don’t want to leave their houses because it’s Christmas.”
More than 200,000 fled to evacuation centers for the storm. Food, water and other emergency supplies had been pre-positioned in areas expected to be lashed by the typhoon.
About 20 typhoons and storms, mostly from the Pacific, lash the Philippines each year, making the poor country of more than 100 million people one of the most disaster-prone in the world. Seven typhoons previously struck the Philippines on Christmas Day.
cw,kbd/jm (AP, Reuters)