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Heavy rains batter Philippine coast as storm nears

(AFP) / 8 May 2011

MANILA — Heavy rains blanketed large parts of the eastern Philippines on Sunday as tropical storm Aere gathered strength while nearing the country, forecasters said.

Aere, the first major weather disturbance of the year, was last tracked at 40 kilometres (24.8 miles) southeast of Catanduanes, an island of about 250,000 people, the state weather bureau said.

“Tropical storm (Aere) has intensified further and is expected to make landfall over Catanduanes this morning,” it said.

The storm packed maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometres (52.8 miles) per hour and had gusts of up to 100 kilometres (62.13 miles) per hour.

Storm alert warnings had been raised over at least 12 provinces in the main island of Luzon and the eastern Bicol, the civil defence office in Manila said.

People living in these areas were warned of possible flash floods and landslides, while those in coastal areas were told to brace for storm surges.

The coastguard had barred smaller boats from leaving ports in Catanduanes and nearby areas, leaving 1,379 people stranded according to the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Domestic airlines also suspended at least six flights to Catanduanes and the eastern island of Samar.

In Manila, nine ground staff were injured when lightning struck a plane on the tarmac during a heavy downpour on Saturday night, radio reports said.




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