Thousands flee as Typhoon Kammuri churns towards Philippines

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MANILA, Dec 2, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The Philippines was braced for powerful
Typhoon Kammuri as the storm churned closer, forcing evacuations and
threatening plans for the Southeast Asian Games events near the capital
Manila.

Kammuri is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday in the
nation’s east with heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 185 kilometres (115
miles) per hour, forecasters said.

The storm is on track to then pass close to Manila, which is home to some
13 million people and the site for many of the SEA Games competitions.

Nearly 70,000 people have already fled their homes in the Bicol region,
which is where the typhoon is expected to make landfall.

“We hope there won’t be any damage, but given its (Kammuri’s) strength, we
can’t avoid it,” Mark Timbal, spokesman for the national disaster agency,
told AFP.

“We have preemptively evacuated people in areas that are in the storm’s
direct path.”

The weather bureau also warned of rain-induced landslides and possible
storm surges of up to three meters (10 feet) which could hit coastal areas in
the nation’s east.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year,
killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of
constant poverty.

The country’s deadliest cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which
left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

– Games plagued by build-up woes –

Kammuri is already snarling plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday
for thousands of athletes from the region and is set to run through December
11 in and around Manila.

Windsurfing was cancelled and triathlon events were held earlier than
scheduled. Organisers are due to deliver an update on the impact later on
Monday.

Organisers have insisted they have contingency plans in place, including
allowing indoor events to proceed but with attendance limited to competitors.

The storm is the latest trouble for the SEA Games, which saw a series of
transport snafus and a rush of last-minute construction ahead of the opening.

This year’s Games in Clark, Manila and Subic are already particularly
complex, with a record 56 sports across dozens of venues that are in some
cases hours apart by car.

Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year’s 30th
edition — the biggest ever — along with another 12,000 volunteers.
Organisers hope more than 500 million viewers will tune in on TV by the end
of competition on December 11.

In an eclectic programme, Olympic sports like swimming and athletics sit
side-by-side with regional favourites such as martial arts, and this year
athletes will even battle an obstacle race course in Manila.

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