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Philippines battered as Typhoon Koppu barrels in

Homes have been flattened, power lines toppled, and thousands of people have fled their homes as Typhoon Koppu swept into the northern Philippines.

The huge, slow-moving typhoon made landfall near the town of Casiguran on the island of Luzon on Sunday morning.

Koppu brought winds of close to 200km/h (124mph) and whipped up coastal surges 4m (12ft) high.

Three days of torrential rain has been predicted, triggering major flooding and possibly landslides.

Alexander Pama, head of the government’s main disaster agency, said 10,000 people had been displaced in north-eastern Luzon but no casualties had been reported so far.

Toppled tree at a highway in San Jose city, Nueva Ecija province, northern Manila, Philippines, 18 October 2015
Image copyrightEPA
Image captionTrees were blown over to the north of Manila
Storm batters Manila Bay. 18 Oct 2015
Image copyrightEPA
Image captionHigh winds battered the sea front in Manila Bay
Soldiers clear debris at a highway in Munoz, Nueva Ecija province, northern Manila, Philippines, 18 October 2015
Image copyrightEPA
Image captionSoldiers are helping to clear debris from the roads
Passengers stranded at Manila airport. 18 Oct 2015
Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMeanwhile, passengers are stranded at Manila airport after flights were grounded

“Initially, we are getting [reports that] many houses were destroyed, power lines toppled and trees blocking major roads,” he said.

The eye of the storm was moving west at a speed of just 3km/h (2mph).

“It has slowed almost to a crawl. We were hoping it would speed up and spare us sooner,” Mr Pama added.

A map showing Casiguran in the Philippines, where Typhoon Koppu landed

Flights and ferry services in the north have been cancelled and some bus services in mountain areas suspended due to the threat of landslides.

On Friday, President Benigno Aquino made a televised warning, the first time he had done so since Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed more than 6,300 people.

BBC science editor David Shukman, who is in the capital Manila, says public warning systems have been greatly improved since Typhoon Haiyan, so there is a much better chance of keeping people safe.

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Typhoon Koppu, also known as Lando, is up to 650 km (404 miles) across. Its slow-moving speed means it could bring intense rain over a long period of time.

After hitting land, it weakened slightly, moving westwards then north.

Speaking in Manila, Lotta Sylwander of Unicef told the BBC that people in the worst hit areas needed to be able to sustain themselves for up to 72 hours.

“That’s how long the typhoon is going to take to pass and during that time it’s going to be extremely difficult to come in with any kind of transport,” she said.

“We’re hoping that people really did prepare and have enough food and water at home.”

Why is Koppu slow-moving? Chris Fawkes, BBC Weather Centre, explains:

There are two typhoons in the west Pacific at the moment – Typhoon Champi sits just to the east of Koppu.

The complex interaction between these two typhoons and the warm air within these storms helps to build a ridge of high pressure over Taiwan this weekend. It is this ridge that effectively traps typhoon Koppu over the Philippines for a number of days rather than it being able to turn away from the Philippines and out of harm’s way to the South China Sea.

Some computer models suggest the storm system will still be affecting the Philippines into the middle of next week allowing colossal amounts of rain to accumulate – 1m (39in) of rain is possible. Such extreme rainfall would bring some severe flooding to Luzon.

“Terrible night of wind and rain,” said Paul Andrew Wysthoff in Pantabangan, northern Nueva Ecija state.

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“No power anywhere in Nueva Ecija. Nothing to see beyond the windows but pitch blackness,” he told the BBC in an email.

Rain has also reached the capital Manila, though winds are not expected to be strong enough there to cause damage.

In his televised appeal on Friday, President Aquino urged the estimated six million people in the typhoon’s direct path to listen to government warnings and be ready to evacuate their homes if necessary.

A map stands on the Manila coast amid rain brought on by Typhoon Koppu
Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe typhoon whipped up coastal surges
A bride arrives for her wedding in the Philippines despite the onset of Typhoon Koppu
Image copyrightEPA
Image captionBut this bride’s wedding still went ahead

He said aid agencies had already distributed emergency supplies to evacuation centres.

“Your government is here to help us achieve zero casualties,” Mr Aquino said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine military in northern Luzon has been placed on alert for disaster operations.

Typhoon Koppu is not due to leave the Philippines until Tuesday, when it will be heading towards Taiwan.


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