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Powerful typhoon slams into Philippines, spoiling Christmas

Fishermen secured their boats in the bay of Santo Domingo, Albay province, as typhoon Nock-Ten approached.
Fishermen secured their boats in the bay of Santo Domingo, Albay province, as typhoon Nock-Ten approached.CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images

MANILA — A powerful typhoon struck eastern Philippines on Christmas Day, spoiling the biggest holiday in Asia’s largest Catholic nation, where a governor offered roast pigs to entice villagers to abandon family celebrations for emergency shelters.

Typhoon Nock-Ten was packing maximum sustained winds of 114 miles per hour and gusts of up to 158 miles per hour when it made landfall Sunday night in Catanduanes province, where fierce winds and rain knocked down the island’s power and communications, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

After Catanduanes, the typhoon, which had a 300-mile rain band, was expected to barge westward across the mountainous southern plank of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon and blow close to the capital, Manila, on Monday, before starting to exit toward the South China Sea. Nock-Ten may weaken after hitting the Sierra Madre mountain range in southern Luzon.

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Heavy rainfall, destructive winds, and battering waves were threatening heavily populated regions, where the Philippine weather agency raised typhoon warnings, stranding thousands of people in ports as airlines canceled flights and ferries were prevented from sailing.

Officials warned of storm surges in coastal villages, flash floods and landslides, and asked villagers to evacuate to safer grounds.