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December 02, 2019 - Monday 6:12 PM by Jon Joaquin, Agence France Presse

Article Banner Image TO SAFETY. Residents help carry a wooden fishing boat into a secured area along the coast in Borongan town, Eastern Samar on December 2, 2019, as they prepare for typhoon Tisoy. Alren BERONIO / AFP

Manila -- The Philippines was braced for powerful typhoon Tisoy (international code name Kammuri) as the storm churned closer, forcing evacuations and threatening plans for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games events near the capital Manila.

Typhoon Tisoy was expected to make landfall over Catanduanes, Albay, or Sorsogon between Monday night and Tuesday morning, December 3, with heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 185 kilometers 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 (Tisoy'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," he added.

Heavy rains and moderate wind batter houses in Gamay town, Northern Samar as typhoon Tisoy hits the province. GLADYS VIDAL / AFP

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

Intermittent to occasional heavy rains are expected over Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Northern Cebu, Dinagat Islands and Siargao Island, as well as Romblon, Mindoro Provinces, Samar, Eastern Samar and the rest of CALABARZON, Metro Manila, Central Luzon, eastern portions of Cagayan and Isabela, and the rest of Eastern Visayas. 

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo urged the public, especially residents who will be affected by the typhoon, to stay vigilant, check the latest weather advisory in their respective areas through government social media accounts, and coordinate with their local disaster and risk reduction management offices for appropriate and responsive action.

Panelo said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Operation Center is maintaining its blue alert.

“Concerned disaster-related agencies are now on standby 24/7. In addition, a total of 434 families or 1,328 persons have been pre-emptively evacuated from the municipalities of Basud, Jose Panganiban, and Vinzons, Camarines Norte. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has also already prepositioned stockpiles and standby funds amounting to P2,000,423,863.03 as of December 1, 2019,” he added.

Games plagued by build-up woes
Typhoon Tisoy 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. Organizers are due to deliver an update on the impact later on Monday.

Heavy rains and moderate wind batter houses in Gamay town, Northern Samar as typhoon Tisoy hits the province. GLADYS VIDAL / AFP

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

This year's Games in Clark, Manila and Subic are 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.

Organizers hope more than 500 million viewers will tune in on TV by the end of competition on December 11. Agence France-Presse with a report from Jon Joaquin