MANILA – Philippine President Benigno Aquino warned Friday a strong typhoon set to hit the disaster-plagued nation over the weekend could cause severe flooding and wind damage in rural northern regions home to millions.
In a nationally televised address, Aquino urged the estimated six million people in Typhoon Koppu’s direct path to be ready to evacuate, as he stressed the government was making full preparations.
The Philippines is struck by about 20 major storms each year, with the disasters regularly killing thousands of people annually and compounding deep poverty for millions.
Koppu was expected to make landfall on the northeastern coast of the Philippines’ biggest island of Luzon on Sunday morning with wind gusts of up to 180 kilometres (115 miles) an hour, the state weather service said.
The typhoon’s forecast strength was not on a par with Haiyan, which hit land with winds of 315 kilometres an hour.
Aquino warned of intense rain over a long period of time.
“Because of El Nino, evaporation at sea will be enhanced and cause the typhoon to suck up more water that it will dump on us.”
Aquino said heavy equipment, relief goods and rescuers had been pre-positioned in those areas to ensure roads were cleared to get help to them if needed.
While storm alerts had been placed over most of Luzon, home to about 50 million people including in the capital of Manila, no evacuations had yet been announced on Friday.