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Storm prompts mass evacuations in southern Philippines

8 January 2017 17:51

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Philippine authorities have ordered the evacuation of some 6,000 people from the southern Philippines islands amid heavy storm.

Authorities issued warnings about floods and landslides as the tropical storm hit Siargao island, located just off the main southern island of Mindanao.

The storm, known as “Auring,” swept across the southern and central islands with maximum gusts of 70 kilometers (44 miles) per hour. The government weather station said in its forecasts that the storm was moving westward and would exit the archipelago by Tuesday.

Officials said some communities had already experienced flash floods as rain had been falling even before the storm hit. Amado Posas, the civil defense director of operations in the affected area, said further rain was expected as a result of the storm and that rivers and streams could overflow. He dismissed the possibility of casualties as people had been evacuated before the storm hit.

Disaster monitoring agencies in southern Philippines had issued preemptive evacuations in the past few days while the government had suspended sea travel in affected areas. Officials said they were also monitoring the situation in remote areas of the provinces of Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley where heavy rains had been falling.

Storms generated over the Pacific Ocean normally hit the Philippines as the first major land mass. The islands experience some 20 major storms each year, with many of them resulting in casualties. The last major storm hitting the area, namely the Typhoon Nock-Ten, came over the Christmas holidays and killed six people. At least 18 were unaccounted for after the storm lashed the southern islands.

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