Manila, Aug 27 : More than a thousand people fled their homes as floods unleashed by Super Typhoon Saola swept through mainly rural villages in the northern Philippines, rescue officials said Sunday.
Saola brushed past the northeast of the main island of Luzon overnight Saturday and continued south just off the Pacific coast packing winds of up to 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour, the state weather bureau said.
No casualties or substantial damage have been reported.
Residents of coastal communities vulnerable to high winds and large waves were moved to higher ground on Isabela province’s Pacific coast, as were those on the northern tip of Cagayan province to the north and Ilocos Sur province on Luzon’s northwest coast, officials said.
“These coastal towns have no protection because they are directly facing the Pacific,” said Isabela rescue official Constante Foronda, putting the number of evacuees in Isabela at 372.
“It’s raining constantly but the winds are not that strong,” he told AFP by telephone, adding: “We got lucky.”
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 major storms each year that kill hundreds of people and keep vast regions in perpetual poverty.
In neighboring Cagayan, rescue official Ruelie Rapsing told AFP 388 people were evacuated overnight amid flooding in several coastal municipalities on Luzon’s northeast tip.
There were also widespread electricity cuts across the province of 1.2 million people due to downed power lines, he added.
The provincial government’s press office released photos on its Facebook page of knee-deep floodwaters swamping homes in the municipality of Aparri.
The civil defense office in Manila also reported the evacuation of 421 people from four municipalities in Ilocos Sur, which were hit by a landslide, flooding, and overflowing rivers.
The eye of Saola was within 90 kilometers of the remote coastal town of Casiguran at 2:00 pm (0600 GMT) but was forecast to remain over water over the next few hours before turning east and then northwest towards Taiwan in the coming days.
The weather service said the main threat was from heavy rain that could trigger flash floods or landslides.
Up to 200 millimeters (nearly eight inches) of rain was forecast to fall along Cagayan and Isabela’s coasts over the next 24 hours.