Philippines evacuates coastal areas ahead of typhoon Yutu

An uprooted tree is seen after Typhoon Yutu hit Saipan. Yutu was the strongest storm since 1950 to hit the US territories of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Typhoon Yutu continues to weaken as it approaches the Philippines, where it should come ashore late on Monday (Oct 29) into Tuesday on Luzon's east coast, adding to the destruction it left in the US Northern Mariana Islands last week.

The Philippinesbegan evacuating some coastal communities in the path of the typhoon, which was expected to move across the main island of Luzon before leaving the Philippines 24 hours later, the state weather agency PAGASA said.

Authorities in Isabela and Cagayan provinces started moving residents in coastal towns to evacuation centres while the mountainous Cordillera region was put on red alert for landslides.

Three provinces in north Luzon were elevated to warning signal 3 on the severity scale of 5, and 28 more were put on the earliest warnings of 1 and 2, with strong winds and rains expected later on Monday.

School classes were suspended in at least five provinces and fishermen in Luzon and the eastern seaboard advised not to go to sea, with warnings of storm surges of up to three metres in six provinces.

All boat services in the port city of Batangas, about 83km south of Manila, were suspended on Monday.

Yutu was the equivalent to a Category 3 storm, on the US Saffir-Simpson scale, with top winds dropped to about 195 kilometres per hour, down from 240 kilometres per hour earlier, the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii said late on Sunday US time.

It was about 420 kilometres from Luzon's east coast, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Wind shear was tearing at the storm's structure and it could weaken to a Category 2 storm just before landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said.

Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines and home to some 53 million people.

"Manila will get a little bit of rain but the worst of it is well to the north," said Mr Jason Nicholls, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc in State College, Pennsylvania.

Northern Luzon was hit by Super Typhoon Mangkhut in September, a storm which went on to strike Hong Kong. At their peak, both Mangkhut and Yutu had winds of 289km per hour, making them the strongest in the world this year.

Yutu, called Rosita in the Philippines, on Wednesday became the strongest storm since 1950 to hit the US territories of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands.

At least one person died, many were injured and buildings were destroyed or damaged, according to a blog post by meteorologist Bob Henson of Weather Underground, an IBM company.

The mountains of Luzon will tear at Yutu's structure and significantly weaken the storm before it emerges into the South China Sea on Wednesday, Mr Nicholls said.

After that, Yutu is forecast to drift north, possibly bringing rain to China's south-east coast and parts of Taiwan by Friday.

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