Typhoon threatens the Philippines

Dec. 2, 2012 at 11:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Pablo, a mammoth typhoon packing sustained winds of 108 miles per hour, set its sights Monday on the Philippines' southern Mindanao Island, forecasters said.

Locally designated as Bopha, the storm, categorized by U.S. meteorologists as a super one, prompted local officials on the island's northern Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to raise storm warning signals, the Philippine Star reported.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the center of the typhoon before noon Monday was estimated at about 435 miles southeast of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur, moving west-northwest at 15 miles per hour with wind speeds gusting up to 131 mph.

Pablo was forecast to blanket the waters off Surigao del Sur until Tuesday morning before moving toward Iloilo City on the Visayas Island Wednesday morning and over toward Puerto Princesa City in Palawan Thursday.

Philippine forecasters said the storm was expected to unleash heavy rains of up to 1.18 inches an hour within its 375-mile diameter during its uninvited Philippine stay, threatening flash floods and landslides, particularly in the mountainous areas.

"Fishing boats and other small sea craft are advised not to venture out into the eastern seaboards of Visayas and Mindanao," the meteorological agency said.

Disaster management officials placed all their units nationwide on red alert, meaning on standby status.

ABS-CBNnews.com, quoting storm experts, reported Pablo could grow into the most powerful storm to hit the country this year, affecting as far north as Metro Manila on Luzon, the country's northernmost island.

In July, Typhoon Saola killed more than 50 people in Manila and other parts of the northern Philippines, flooded thousands of homes and caused heavy property and crop damage.

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