An approaching typhoon has left at least one person dead, another missing and prompted the evacuation of more than 100,000 people as a precaution in the eastern and central Philippines.
The unusual summer storm is not expected to blow into land, officials said.
Typhoon Surigae was about 500 kilometres east of Infanta town in Quezon province on Monday afternoon with sustained winds of 195km/h and gusts of up to 240km/h.
It is forecast to slowly move north-westward and then veer eastward away from the northern Philippines around Thursday.
— Met Office Storms (@metofficestorms) April 19, 2021
Vicente Malano, administrator of the government weather agency, said a high pressure area extending from China to Japan was blocking the typhoon from blowing inland.
“We’re lucky it’s not going to make landfall because if it hits land, it’s really going to be super devastating,” said Ariel Rojas, from the weather agency.
The typhoon’s 900-kilometre band of rain clouds and strong winds nevertheless flooded at least 22 villages and caused power outages in four provinces.
More than 3200 people and 43 ferries and cargo ships were stranded in seaports after the coast guard suspended sea travel as the typhoon blew nearer, the government disaster-response agency and the coast guard said.
A 79-year-old man died in St Bernard town in Southern Leyte province after being hit by a falling coconut tree, the Office of Civil Defence said.
Another villager in San Jose town in Northern Samar province was missing after he went to a nearby island in a motorboat to secure his farm animals, it said.
The 6-hourly evolution of Typhoon #Surigae over the past 3 days as it rapidly intensified, peaked as a category-5 equivalent TC, and underwent an eyewall replacement cycle resulting in a lower (but still strong) intensity and a larger eye + wind field. pic.twitter.com/u4QwLhoUey
— Dr. Kim Wood (@DrKimWood) April 19, 2021
More than 29,300 families or 109,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters as a precaution in five eastern provinces in the Bicol region, it said.
Mayors said they have to open more evacuation centres to ensure social distancing during the pandemic.
“It’s really tough, it’s toxic, but we have no choice,” mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco, of Guinobatan town in Albay province, said.
She said even churches were being used to shelter more than 6100 villagers in her town, including many from communities threatened by mudflows from Mayon, one of the most active volcanoes in the archipelago.
The Philippines is a coronavirus hotspot in South-East Asia, with health officials reporting 945,745 infections and 16,048 deaths.
About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year.