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(UPDATE) ‘Mina’ nears super typhoon strength--PAGASA

November 23, 2007 12:29:00
Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines -- Typhoon “Mina” (International codename: Mitag) neared super typhoon strength, on the eve of its landfall in Catanduanes province, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

At 10 a.m., "Mina" was located 220 kilometers east of Virac town in Catanduanes province. The storm packs maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per our and gusts of up to 210 kilometers per hour, PAGASA said in a bulletin.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said 50,387 people have been evacuated in Albay and three other provinces in the Bicol Region as of Thursday evening.

PAGASA Director Prisco Nilo said in a phone interview that a storm's maximum sustained winds would need to reach 215 kilometers per hour before it could be classified a super typhoon.

"The likely scenario is that it will hit Bicol and will exit the country via Mindoro," Nilo said.

According to the PAGASA bulletin, the storm will be in the vicinity of Catanduanes by Saturday morning, off the Oriental Mindoro coast by Sunday morning, and 230 kilometers west of San Jose town, Oriental Mindoro by Monday morning.

Public Storm Signal number 3 has been raised in the provinces of Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Albay, Burias Island, and the Camarines provinces, while signal number 2 was raised in southern Quezon, Polilio Island, and the provinces of Marinduque, Romblon, and Masbate.

Signal number 1 was raised in the Mindoro provinces, the rest of Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Aurora, Isabela, Quirino, and the Calamian Group of Islands.

Bulk of the over 50,000 evacuees, 45,487, were in Albay, of which, 11,518 were in Daraga town, 7,394 in Ligao, 6,311 in Camalig, 5,862 in Legazpi City, 5,127 in Guinobatan, 3,108 in Pio Duran, 2,795 in
Jovellar, 1,009 in Polangui, 793 in Sto. Domingo, 614 in Bacacay, 375 in Tabaco, 198 in Malilipot, 185 in Malinao, 106 in Rapu-Rapu, and 17 in Tiwi.

In Catanduanes province, where the storm is expected to make landfall on Saturday morning, 1,500 were evacuated in the capital of Virac.

In Camarines Sur province, there were 2,275 evacuees: 1,500 in Caramoan town, 500 in Magarao, and 275 in Buhi.

In Sorsogon province, 1,125 people were evacuated in Irosin town, the NDCC said, citing figures as of 11 p.m. Thursday.

"The storm will make landfall early morning tomorrow [Saturday], but as early as this afternoon, the storm will be felt in Catanduanes and Northern Samar," PAGASA weather branch chief Nathaniel Cruz told dzMM radio.

Asked if "Mina" would intensify into a super typhoon, Cruz said: "That's possible, as we speak, it continues to strengthen."

While the eye of the storm would pass by Southern Luzon, Cruz said the storm's winds would be felt in Metro Manila.

Public Storm Signal number 2 could be raised in the capital, with winds expected from 60 to 100 kilometers per hour, he said.

"But even if this does not develop into a super typhoon, with winds this strong, the public should be careful," he said.

Metro Manila was last hit by a super typhoon in late 2006, when "Milenyo" (international codename: Xangsane) downed power lines, communication lines and billboards along major roads.

Originally posted at 12:32pm

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