Typhoon Maysak downgraded as it hits Philippines

MANILA (AFP) - Typhoon Maysak was downgraded to a tropical depression and made landfall in the Philippines on Sunday, forecasters said, easing fears after thousands of residents were evacuated from remote coastal communities to avoid potentially dangerous storm surge.

Maysak, which began as a Super Typhoon in the Pacific Ocean, reached the northeast coast of the main island of Luzon with winds of 55 km an hour, chief state weather forecaster Esperanza Cayanan said.

"As of now, most of our fears have melted away," she told a news conference shortly after the depression reached Dinapigue, a remote town on Luzon around 8.00am local time.

"Our projection is that it will weaken further" as it crosses over Luzon's mountainous interior, she added.

The government had evacuated more than 25,000 people from coastal villages in Dinapigue, about 250 km northeast of Manila, and nearby areas as a precaution against potential tsunami-like waves called storm surges.

Local officials will now make the call on when to send them back home, civil defence director Alexander Pama told the news conference.

However, he warned it was still dangerous to put to sea in small boats of the sort used by the area's fishermen.

About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, many of them deadly.

Storm surges caused many of the fatalities when Super Typhoon Haiyan smashed onto the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.