Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Philippines braces for tropical storm Songda

People walk in the rain as tropical storm Songda forms off the east coast of the Philippines, Monday, May 23, 2011, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau is forecasting that the storm would move near Taiwan's east coast toward the end of the week. -- PHOTO: AP

MANILA - PHILIPPINE President Benigno Aquino put state relief agencies on alert on Tuesday and warned those living near the coast to get ready to flee as the country braced for a strong tropical storm.

With winds of 135kmh and gusts of up to 105kmh near the centre, the coast guard barred fishing vessels and small ships from going out to sea ahead of Tropical Storm Songda.

As the storm is not forecast to hit the north-eastern part of Luzon island until late Thursday, Mr Aquino believes there is enough time to prevent casualties, his spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

'We appeal to those low-lying and landslide-prone areas to cooperate with local authorities if and when they are asked to evacuate,' he said.

Heavy rains are expected across the Philippines' central islands from Wednesday, which could cause flooding and landslides, the weather bureau said.

It forecast between 20mm and 40mm of rain an hour, compared to the 56mm an hour dumped by Tropical Storm Ketsana in 2009. That storm caused Manila's deadliest flooding in decades and killed more than 400 people. -- AFP

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