Christmas storm threatens Philippines

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 25 2012 03:49 PM | Updated as of Dec 25 2012 11:49 PM

MANILA - Flood and landslide warnings were issued across the central and southern Philippines on Christmas Day as Tropical Storm Wukong (local name: Quinta) threatened the disaster-prone Asian nation, officials said Tuesday.

The eye of the storm is expected to hit land on Samar island before dawn on Wednesday, bringing "heavy to intense" rain over a 350-kilometer- (217-mile-) wide front, the state weather service said.

These areas should expect potential landslides and floods, and local officials may have to order evacuations, said civil defense chief Benito Ramos.

He said the outer bands of the storm, which has gusts of up to 80 kilometers an hour, would affect areas of the south devastated by Typhoon Bopha (local name: Pablo) earlier this month.

"This will cause flash floods and landslides. Our people still have time to evacuate, but we give the local government units the discretion to make the call," he told reporters.

No evacuations have been reported so far.

Floods and landslides unleashed by Bopha, the strongest cyclone to hit the country this year, killed more than a thousand people on December 4, the civil defense office said, with hundreds more missing.

The government said the final Bopha death toll would likely hit 1,500, making it the second deadliest since the Philippines began keeping records in 1947.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 major storms or typhoons each year that occur mainly during the rainy season between June and October.

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