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Tens of thousands flee as Christmas typhoon hits Philippines

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A powerful typhoon with gusts of up to 235 kilometres (146 miles) an hour hit the Philippines late Sunday, disrupting Christmas celebrations for tens of thousands who fled its approach, officials said.
Typhoon Nock-Ten made landfall in the eastern island province of Catanduanes at 6:30 pm (1030 GMT), the state weather service said.

There were no immediate official reports of damage or casualties from the storm, one of the strongest this year to hit the disaster-prone archipelago on the Pacific Rim.

The military and local governments earlier moved at least 102,000 people from the coasts and other hazardous areas of Catanduanes and the nearby Bicol peninsula, provincial officials said, after experts warned of possible huge waves, floods and landslides.
The typhoon was forecast to sweep west and threaten the country's most densely populated areas including the capital Manila on Monday morning.
"It would pass over land overnight and we hope that would dissipate the typhoon's strength somewhat," state weather forecaster Lorie de la Cruz told AFP.
She said maximum sustained winds were 185 kph at 0900 GMT but the agency did not have the figure during landfall itself.
In the Bicol region in the south of the main island of Luzon, babies, toddlers and old people were loaded onto military trucks in pouring rain earlier Sunday as the weatherservice warned of possible storm surges up to 2.5-metres (eight-feet) high, landslides and flash floods.

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