Philippines braces for Typhoon Bopha, strongest of 2012

Soldiers and police prepare to evacuate residents in flood and landslide-prone areas

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 4:27am

The Philippines is bracing for the strongest storm of 2012, almost a year after Typhoon Washi triggered landslides, flooding and the highest cyclone death toll since 2008.

Packing gusts of up to 220km/h, Typhoon Bopha was 1,000 kilometres southeast of the Philippines yesterday, and was forecast to make landfall tomorrow or on Wednesday, the state weather bureau said.

Soldiers and police were in position to evacuate residents in flood and landslide-prone areas to safer ground, if necessary, and the Philippine navy had placed at least 40 ships on standby, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Omar Tonsay said.

Washi killed more than 1,200 people, mostly in the southern region of Mindanao, in December 2011. In September 2009, Ketsana flooded Manila and parts of Luzon, killing more than 400 people.

Monsoon rains flooded half of the Manila region in August. The death toll from Typhoon Fengshen in 2008 included more than 900 people aboard a ship that capsized.

Bopha "is the strongest typhoon this year, with the potential to trigger floods and landslides," Civil Defence Chief Benito Ramos said.

He said local governments in the areas likely to be soaked by heavy rains had been advised to take precautionary evacuations if needed, though none had been ordered so far.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year, some of them destructive. Bopha is the 16th this year. Damage due to typhoons and other calamities in 2011 reached 59.2 billion pesos (HK$11.2 billion), Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in August.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse