>BBC News – Super-typhoon Megi heads for northern Philippines

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17 October 2010 Last updated at 15:43 ET

Super-typhoon Megi heads for northern Philippines

Alex Deakin

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Alex Deakin with details of the forecast track of Typhoon Megi.

Thousands of people in the Philippines have fled from their homes ahead of a powerful storm, Super-Typhoon Megi, which is expected to reach the north of the country early on Monday.

Megi, which has winds of up to more than 280km/h (175mph), is then forecast to move towards the South China Sea.

It is the strongest storm the Philippines has faced this year.

In 2006, a storm with winds of 155km/h triggered mudslides, burying villages and killing about 1,000 people.

‘Zero casualties’

The northern provinces of Cagayan and Isabela are on the highest storm alert.

Officials are warning of heavy rain and high winds that could damage buildings, power supplies and agriculture.

Emergency services have been stocking up on food and medicines, says the BBC's Kate McGeown in the capital, Manila.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

This is like preparing for war. We know the past lessons and we’re aiming for zero casualties”

End Quote Benito Ramos Disaster-response official

Government forecasters say waves off the east coast could be greater than 14m (46ft). They have warned against travel to the region.

Thousands of soldiers and officers are on standby.

Trucks, rescue boats and food packs have been pre-positioned near vulnerable areas, said Benito Ramos, a senior disaster-response official.

"This is like preparing for war," he told the Associated Press. "We know the past lessons and we're aiming for zero casualties."

Schools in the north will be closed on Monday.

Farmers were being urged to harvest as many of their crops as possible before the typhoon hit, our correspondent says.

The area in the storm's path is one of the country's main rice-growing regions.

In July, President Benigno Aquino sacked the head of the weather bureau after he failed to predict a typhoon which unexpectedly changed course and hit Manila, killing more than 100 people.

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