Philippine cities evacuated as typhoon nears

10/18/2009 12:00 AM

10/18/2009 12:05 AM

MANILA, Philippines — Police went door-to-door urging residents to leave landslide-ravaged areas of the northern Philippines on Saturday in a "pre-emptive evacuation" as a new typhoon loomed after recent back-to-back storms killed more than 750 people, officials said.

Forecasters said Typhoon Lupit — the Filipino word for cruel— had intensified overnight and by late Saturday was packing winds of 87 miles per hour and gusts of up to 106 mph.

The Philippines is still recovering from Tropical Storm Ketsana in late September, which triggered the worst flooding in Manila in over 40 years, and the Oct. 3 landfall of Typhoon Parma, which lingered for a week while drenching the main island of Luzon. The two storms killed 773 people and affected more than 7 million.

In Benguet province's Cordillera mountain region, Gov. Nestor Fongwan said he had ordered police officers to go house-to-house to tell people to leave ahead of Typhoon Lupit, which could reach the Philippines by Tuesday.

"Definitely, they must go," Fongwan told the Associated Press. At least 288 died in storm-fueled landslides in the area about 130 miles north of the capital, Manila.

While Typhoon Lupit was days away and could still change course, officials said early action was necessary. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who also heads the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said people in areas still recovering would be easier to persuade to leave their homes in a "pre-emptive evacuation."

Evacuating early "might be a much easier endeavor now," Teodoro told reporters in Manila, the capital.

Lupit could still spare the saturated northern Philippines and veer north toward Taiwan early next week, or it could track the same devastating path as Typhoon Parma, which lingered for a week and dumped more rain after making landfall in the north on Oct. 3, chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

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