Philippines braces for another storm, this time on Christmas eve

In this file picture, a resident walks past debris from the aftermath of Typhoon Kammuri in the city of Sorsogon, south of Manila, on Dec 3, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - A storm approaching on Christmas Eve is disrupting holiday travel in the Philippines, Asia's largest Catholic nation.

Tropical storm Phanfone, called Ursula locally, is forecast to hit central Philippines on Tuesday (Dec 24). The 21st cyclone to hit the country this year, it packs sustained winds as fast as 100kmh and gusts as strong as 125kmh, the weather bureau Pagasa said on Tuesday morning.

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have cancelled some domestic flights and the coast guard banned sea travel in some affected areas, according to their social media posts and local reports.

Filipinos typically leave for their home towns to be with their families on Christmas, and hundreds of people are stranded in various ports already.

The storm is forecast to make landfall over Eastern Samar province on Tuesday afternoon or evening as a severe tropical storm or typhoon, the weather bureau said.

Several provinces in Luzon and Visayas have been placed on storm signal 2, the second-lowest in a five-level warning system, it said.

Visayas and southern Luzon may face heavy rainfall and flooding, and have an elevated risk of mudslides, according to AccuWeather.

About 20 cyclones pass through the disaster-prone Philippines each year, with Super Typhoon Haiyan killing more than 6,300 people in 2013.

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