Philippines evacuates hundreds of thousands ahead of typhoon, to shut main airport

Philippines evacuates hundreds of thousands ahead of typhoon, to shut main airport

The Philippines was braced for powerful Typhoon Kammuri as the storm churned closer, forcing evacuations and threatening plans for the Southeast Asian Games events near the capital Manila.

Philippine authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people, cancelled more flights and shut schools as Typhoon Kammuri came closer to land in the main Luzon island.

The storm is on track to then pass close to Manila, which is home to some 13 million people and the site for numerous SEA Games competitions.

The storm, which made landfall in Sorsogon province, is said to have maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h (110mph), with gusts of up to 240km/h, with storm surges of up to three metres (nearly 10ft) expected, the weather service said.

The Philippines is now hosting thousands of athletes from the region for the Southeast Asia Games which are set to run through December 11.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and all local and global airlines agreed to close the Ninoy Aquino worldwide Airport (NAIA) terminals from 11 a.m.to 11 p.m. on December 3, Tuesday, in anticipation of typhoon Tisoy.

More than 60,000 people were asked to leave their homes in Bicol region, authorities said.

But some chose to stay despite the storm's impending arrival. "Roofs are being torn off and I saw one roof flying", said local Gladys Castillo Vidal.

Kammuri is already snarling plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday for thousands of athletes from the region and is set to run through to December 11 in and around Manila. "Hopefully it can withstand the storm".

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty. Windsurfing and canoeing competitions scheduled for Tuesday have been suspended.

As part of the contingency plan "in place a long time ago", Games organisers have told venues to dismantle temporary structures like tents for officials, security and catering or outdoor branding over fears they could be ripped away by the strong winds.

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