Typhoon intensifies, closes in on Philippines' northern tip

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A powerful typhoon gained strength Sunday as it zeroed in on the northeastern tip of the Philippines, where some 1,400 people were moved to safety from coastal areas exposed to floods and storm surges.

Typhoon Noul is packing winds of 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 220 kph (136 mph). It is forecast to clip the northern Cagayan province, making landfall in Santa Ana township on Sunday afternoon or evening then veering north into the open sea toward southern Japan.

Some 1,400 people have moved to evacuation centers in neighboring Isabela province, where earlier forecasts had said the typhoon would first hit, said Norma Talosig, the civil defense regional director.

She said that officials in coastal Santa Ana town also prepared to move people to safer grounds and had enough supplies in stock.

Forecasters warned of up to a 2 meter (6.5-foot) high storm surge in Santa Ana, which also includes Palaui Island, with a population of about 30,000 people.

About 300 people who had fled to shelters near Mount Bulusan in the central Philippines returned home Sunday after the typhoon moved northward, sparing the province the threat of mudslides involving volcanic debris, said Joric dela Rosa, a civil defense worker in the region.

The coast guard suspended ferry services in areas affected by the typhoon, stranding over 5,000 passengers.

About 20 storms and typhoons enter the Philippines yearly. The strongest on record to make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, devastated the central Philippines, claiming more than 7,300 lives.

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