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President Benigno Aquino Warns Philippines to be on Alert for Typhoon Koppu



Philippine authorities prepare for typhoon Koppu

Philippine authorities prepare for typhoon Koppu



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.

 “Your government is here to help us achieve zero casualties,” Aquino said.

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.

 In November 2013, more than 7,350 people were left dead or missing in the central Philippines as Super Typhoon Haiyan — the strongest storm ever recorded on land — destroyed entire towns.

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 area where it is first expected to hit is a mainly farming and mountainous region, about 270 kilometres northeast of Manila.

The typhoon’s forecast strength was not on a par with Haiyan, which hit land with winds of 315 kilometres an hour.

 However, the state weather forecasters and Aquino said a confluence of meteorological conditions, including the El Nino phenomenon and a local high-pressure area, could cause Koppu to be uniquely destructive.

Aquino warned of intense rain over a long period of time.

 “This typhoon is different because it will have the effect of being stationary,” Aquino warned, adding forecasters said it could take 12 hours for it to leave the main island of Luzon.

“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.”

 The state weather service also warned of storm surges of up to 1.2 metres (about four feet) in some coastal areas.

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.

 “We have assets at the ready… to respond to any eventuality. However, we are dealing with nature so we don’t really know what will happen.”

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.

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