Maysak weakens; thousands evacuated in Philippines


MANILA — Around 24,000 coastal residents of the Philippines were being evacuated as a precaution from approaching Tropical Storm Maysak on Saturday, officials said, even as experts downgraded the threat from what was at one point a super typhoon. Maysak, which days earlier hit several small islands in the Pacific Ocean, has weakened into a 115-kilometer (71-mile) an hour storm, state weather forecaster Jun Galang told AFP. It was also possible the storm would further weaken to between 65-85 kilometers an hour by the time it is projected to hit the northeast coast of the main Philippine island of Luzon on Sunday morning, he added. ��At those lower intensities, we can eliminate the threat posed by storm surges,�� he said, referring to giant tsunami-like waves that had prompted local officials to evacuate coastal villages in the area. Such waves caused many of the fatalities when Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the country in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 dead or missing. Despite its reduced strength, Galang said Maysak was still forecast to bring ��moderate to occasionally intense�� rain across a 400-kilometre front on Luzon’s mountainous northern section overnight Saturday. Even light or moderate rain, if sustained for several hours, can bring floods and landslides in a locality, he noted. The areas potentially affected have a combined population of about five million people, Social Welfare Undersecretary Vilma Cabrera told a news conference in Manila on Saturday. About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, many of them deadly, but such weather disturbances are rare in April, the height of the tropical Asian nation’s dry season.