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Schools close as Typhoon Haiyan nears Philippines

Updated: 2013-11-07 14:50
( Xinhua)

Schools close as Typhoon Haiyan nears Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan is pictured in this NOAA satellite handout image taken Nov 6, 2013 at 23:13 UTC. [Photo/Agencies]

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Classes in some provinces of southern Philippines were canceled Thursday as supertyphoon Haiyan came nearer to the country's eastern coast.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said in its 8 am bulletin that the typhoon was located some 712 kilometers east of Hinatuan City, in Surigao del Sur Province, packing winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour.

In Cebu Province, class suspension applies to "all levels in public and private schools" on Nov 7 to 8, Provincial Government Hilario Davide III said.

Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel said, "We're experiencing heavy rains now, but no winds yet," adding he has already ordered an evacuation of all flood-prone areas in his province which is under public storm signal number 1 (winds of up to 55 kph) and 2 (55-65 kph).

"We've been prepared already since Wednesday," Pimentel told Xinhua in a text message.

Governors in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte, areas heavily devastated by Typhoon Bopha (local name Pablo) last year, also asked soldiers and police to help disaster and rescue teams for possible massive flooding to be caused by Typhoon Haiyan (local codename Yolanda).

The Philippine Coast Guard in Bislig City, another Surigao del Sur area expected to be directly affected by the storm, said that all sea travel were already suspended.

Seven areas in Visayas region in Central Philippine and in northern Mindanao are under signal number 2 while 30 other areas across the archipelago are under signal number 1.

The most powerful storm in the Philippines this year is expected to dump heavy to intense rainfall within its 600- kilometer cloud diameter, and the state weather bureau has advised the public to be on alert.

The Philippines gets an average of 22 storms every year, being at the so-called Typhoon Belt, between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. Haiyan is 2013's 24th storm.