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Philippines - China

Super-typhoon heads for northern Philippines

CMA

A super-typhoon was headed for the northern Philippines Sunday and will head on to China. The authorities began evacuating thousands of villagers to safer ground hours before it hit land.

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State weather forecasters said Typhoon Megi had developed into a super-typhoon, with maximum winds of 195 kilometres an hour near the centre and gusts of up to 230 kilometres an hour.

It is expected to hit the province of Cagayan in the north of Luzon island on Monday and then cut westwards towards the South China Sea.

Officials have encouraged villager to move out of the typhoon’s possible path.

"Some are still gauging the situation, but those who are living in low areas have voluntarily gone to higher ground," said Benito Ramos, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Thousands of people have already temporarily relocated from communities along the Cagayan river system, which had overflowed its banks during previous typhoons, he said.

President Benigno Aquino ordered all government agencies to be on high alert to prevent any casualties, while the coast guard was instructed to ban all fishing vessels from setting off to sea in the north.

The government may forcibly evacuate the area, said Norma Talosig, regional chief of the Office of Civil Defence.

Food packs, medicine and rescue equipment, including rubber boats, were ready in areas expected to be affected, while police say that additional search and rescue teams from Manila were en route to the north.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons every year and suffered badly last year.

China's National Meteorological Centre said Megi was expected to enter the South China Sea on Monday and could cause wild winds and huge waves in the next three days.

The US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre on Sunday said Megi has undergone "rapid intensification" over the past 12 hours, but could weaken as it moves across mountainous terrain upon entering Luzon, before regaining strength over the South China Sea.

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