Typhoon Heads for Luzon Island, Residents Told to Seek Higher Ground
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The strongest typhoon to strike the Philippines this year lashed the east coast of Luzon Island today with 127 mph winds after residents of areas in its path were told to seek higher ground.
Advance winds from Typhoon Elsie struck land at midday near Casiguran, 130 miles north of Manila, and the center of the storm was expected to come ashore a few hours later, according to the Manila Weather Bureau.
Storm warnings were issued for all of Luzon, the main Philippines island, and at U.S. military installations.
″Any typhoon of this strength is capable of massive destruction,″ said forecaster Vicente Manalo.
Elsie’s westward path would take it across the rugged mountains of northeastern Luzon and across the north-central agricultural heartland about 100 miles north of the capital.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, but Manila radio stations said they received sketchy reports of flooding and landslides in the north.
Manila radio station DZXL said its affiliate in Bayombong, capital of Nueva Vizcaya province 130 miles to the north, was knocked off the air by a power failure.
U.S. officials said all six American military installations on Luzon had been placed on maximum typhoon alert.
U.S. Air Force forecasters predicted the storm would pass about 50 miles north of Clark Air Base but near the U.S. John Hay Air Station in Baguio, 130 miles north of Manila.
The storm was reported moving about 12 mph and was expected to weaken as it crossed the Sierra Madre mountains of northeastern Luzon.
Philippine Airlines canceled flights from Manila to northern Luzon, and the coast guard ordered ships to stay in port in the affected area.
U.S. Air Force officials said some jets had been moved to air bases in Japan and South Korea until the storm passed.
The Far East Network, which broadcasts to the 40,000-member U.S. military community, advised residents at Clark, John Hay and the U.S.-run Wallace Air Station to stock up on fresh water, flashlights, candles and other emergency equipment.
Residents at the U.S.-run Subic Bay naval base, 50 miles northwest of Manila, were also advised to take precautions.
Base spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Mukri said there were relatively few warships in port ″so we’re not going to have a very big exodus if the conditions worsen.″
The Navy routinely sends warships into the South China Sea when storms threaten Subic.
Elsie was the third major storm to strike the Philippines in two weeks.
Typhoon Dan hit Manila and southern Luzon on Oct. 10, killing at least 59 people. On Oct. 6, Typhoon Angela killed at least 119 people in northern Luzon.
An average of 20 typhoons and tropical storms strike the Philippines annually. Elsie was the 17th of 1989.