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Powerful storm nearing Philippines—forecasters

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05:44 PM December 2nd, 2012

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December 2nd, 2012 05:44 PM

MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image 4:30 p.m., 02 December 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine authorities warned the public Sunday to take precautions for what could be the most powerful storm to hit the country this year.

Packing gusts of up to 220 kilometers (136 miles) per hour, Typhoon Bopha (to be locally called Pablo) was 1,000 kilometers southeast of the Philippines as of Sunday morning and forecast to make landfall between Tuesday and Wednesday, the state weather bureau said.

Heavy rain from the advancing storm was expected to hit the central Visayas region and the main southern island of Mindanao from Sunday night, it said.

“This is a powerful storm, perhaps the strongest this year, and we enjoin everyone to take precautionary measures,” the head of the country’s civil defense office, Benito Ramos, told AFP.

He said local governments in the areas likely to be soaked by heavy rains had been advised to undertake precautionary evacuations if needed, though none has been ordered so far.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year, some of them destructive. Bopha is the 16th so far this year.

In August, nearly 100 people were killed and more than a million were displaced by heavy flooding caused by a series of storms.

Nineteen typhoons struck the country last year, of which 10 were destructive, leading to more than 1,500 deaths and affecting nearly 10 percent of the total population, according to the government.

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