Manila: Hundreds of people fled their homes
for higher ground on Friday as a tropical storm unleashed
scattered floods in a usually cyclone-free area of the
southern Philippines, officials said.
Some 300 people had to leave their homes as overnight
heavy rains from tropical storm Washi caused flooding in
Dipolog city on the island of Mindanao, civil defence office
operations chief Edgar Ollet said.
"I hope we will avoid casualties. This area is rarely hit
by typhoons, which means locals may not be as prepared,
compared to the rest of the country," Ollet said.
Washi struck Mindanao`s southeast coast at 2:30 pm (1200
IST) with winds gusting at 90 kilometres an hour, the state
weather service said.
The storm was now moving west across the large island,
weather forecaster Gilbert Aquino said.
Mindanao is a largely agricultural area that is
considered the country`s breadbasket.
"That area is rarely hit by typhoons," Aquino said,
adding regional officials have been alerted to warn residents
about the dangers of landslides and flash floods.
The Philippines endures about 20 major storms annually,
with most hitting Luzon, the largest and most populous island
in the Southeast Asian archipelago.
Two typhoons, Nesat and Nalgae, hit the country within
days of each other from September 27, leaving more than 100
people dead, while tropical storm Banyan killed another eight
people in October, by government count.