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Typhoon Rai intensifies ahead of making landfall in Philippines

Typhoon Rai has intensified as it barrelled towards the Philippines, where more than 45,000 residents have fled their homes in high-risk areas, officials said Thursday.

Typhoon Rai has intensified as it barrelled towards the Philippines, where more than 45,000 residents have fled their homes in high-risk areas, officials said Thursday.

Typhoon Rai was expected to make its initial landfall in the vicinity of the islands of Dinagat, Siargao and Bucas Grande, about 700 kilometres south of Manila, by noon or early afternoon Thursday, the weather bureau said.

The typhoon has undergone “rapid intensification” and was now packing maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometres per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 205 kph, the bureau said in its latest advisory.

The storm was moving west-northwest at 25 kilometres per hour, it added.

More than 20 provinces and areas have been placed under a storm signal warning, and the national disaster agency has alerted local authorities to prepare for emergencies.

Sea travel has been suspended in the affected areas, leaving 3,891 passengers stranded in more than 30 ports in central, eastern and southern provinces.

Pre-emptive evacuations were implemented in at least 10 provinces, affecting at least 45,383 people, the disaster agency said.

The Philippine archipelago is hit by an average of 20 tropical cyclones every year.

The strongest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines was Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people and displaced more than 4 million in November 2013.

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