MANILA, Philippines – About 725,000 people fled their homes and communities braced for heavy rain and coastal floods of up to 13 feet as Typhoon Melor slammed Monday into the eastern Philippines, officials said. Classes, flights and ferry trips were suspended.
The government's weather bureau said the typhoon was packing winds of 95 miles per hour with gusts of up to 115 mph, and heavy to intense rain within its 185-mile diameter. It made landfall Monday morning on tiny Batag Island in the eastern Philippines, and a second landfall was expected in Sorsogon province.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 724,839 residents of three eastern provinces were evacuated Sunday and early Monday before the storm's arrival.
The largest numbers of evacuees were in Sorsogon and Albay provinces.
Bernardo Alejandro, a regional civil defense official, said many residents of Sorsogon voluntarily went to shelters Sunday night, but the provincial governor then ordered evacuations Monday for residents who had refused to leave their homes despite the risk of floods and landslides.
In Albay, about 590,000 residents were evacuated as a precaution, including tens of thousands from around Mount Mayon volcano, where volcanic mudflows are an added threat, the national council said.
Edgar Posadas, a civil defense official in the Eastern Visayas region, said parts of Allen town in Northern Samar province were flooded, and strong winds tore off roofs and felled coconut trees.
He said no casualties had been reported even in the northern tip of the province, where the typhoon first made landfall, and that the evacuation of residents and preparedness of local officials had so far proved effective.
About 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon on record to make landfall, left more than 7,300 people dead and missing as it leveled entire villages and swept walls of seawater into parts of the central Philippines.