Typhoon threatens Philippines, thousands evacuated

Manila: Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated to safety in the southern and central Philippines on Thursday as a powerful typhoon approached and as authorities were warning the public to avoid crowds after the first infections caused by the Omicron strain of the Coronavirus were reported in the country, officials said.

Forecasters said they last tracked Typhoon Rai, which has sustained winds of 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 230 kph (143 mph), about 175 kilometers (109 miles) east of southern Surigao del Norte province.

It was blowing northwestward at 25 kph (15 mph). The typhoon, locally called Odette, was expected to slam into the Dinagat Islands in the country's southeast later Thursday, forecasters said.

Several southern and central provinces were placed on typhoon alerts. Residents were warned to stay away from coastal and low-lying villages and other high-risk areas due to possible flash floods, landslides and tidal surges in or near the typhoon's path.

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