By Manuel Mogato
MANILA (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from the central Philippines on Monday as a typhoon with winds of up to 150 kph (95 mph) made landfall, dumping heavy rain that could cause flooding, landslides & storm surges, authorities warned.
About 40 domestic flights were grounded, while 73 ferries & hundreds of fishing boats were ordered to remain in port as typhoon Melor hit the village of Batag on the northern tip of Samar island.
Known locally as typhoon Nona, it was expected to roll across nearby islands before making landfall after on Monday close to Sorsogon, approximately 385 km (240 miles) southeast of the capital, Manila, on the heavily populated main island of Luzon.
Melor was plotting a similar path to Haiyan, a category 5 typhoon that struck the central Philippines in 2013. Almost 8,000 people were killed or left missing by Haiyan.
Disaster authorities have temporarily closed schools & some offices & evacuated approximately 750,000 people in three provinces. About 8,000 people were stranded after the coast guard stopped ferries & fishing boats from leaving ports in the central Philippines.
"Melor is a very compact typhoon, so that will prevent its most devastating impacts from extending too far from its centre," said AccuWeather meteorologist Adam Douty.
He said the typhoon had weakened a little as it encountered drier air early on Monday. "While Melor will not slam onshore as a super typhoon as once feared, it still poses dangers to lives & property," Douty said.
Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council, said typhoon Melor was expected to cause flooding, landslides & storm surges of up to 4 metres (13 feet) & disrupt power & communications.
About 20 provinces, some around Manila, are under public storm alert due to strong winds & torrential rains of up to 300 mm (12 inches) within a 300 km (185 miles) radius.
About 20 major typhoons pass through the Philippines each year.
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Paul Tait)