By Enrico Dela Cruz
MANILA (Reuters) - A typhoon slammed into central Philippines late on Sunday, bringing strong winds and heavy rains and cutting off power, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, weather officials and radio reports said.
Typhoon Nock-ten was packing maximum sustained winds of 185 kph (115 mph) with gusts up to 255 kph when it made landfall over Catanduanes province, which was under the highest storm alert, on the Bicol peninsula on Sunday evening.
The typhoon made a second landfall over Camarines Sur province, then weakened slightly with winds of 175 kph but gusts at 290 kph, the weather bureau said.
“We continue to pray, stay positive and stay alert. Brownout in a lot of areas already,” Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte said in a post on his Instagram account.
Communication lines have been cut in some areas, radio reports said.
Around 218,000 people fled to evacuation centres after authorities warned of storm surges and flooding in coastal villages and low-lying areas.
Nock-ten could make another landfall early on Monday while moving west faster at 20 kph, from 15 kph previously, and crossing the provinces of Camarines Norte, Southern Quezon, Laguna, Batangas, and Cavite, weather forecasters said.
The typhoon’s eye will be near Metro Manila on Monday afternoon, they said.
Land, sea and air travel has been suspended in some areas, leaving stranded thousands of people heading home for Christmas in the mostly Christian country.
In 2013, more than 6,000 people were killed and 200,000 homes destroyed whenTyphoon Haiyan, the strongest-ever storm to make landfall in the Philippines, hit the central islands of Leyte and Samar.
About 20 major typhoons pass through the Philippines each year. Since 1948, at least seven have hit during the Christmas period.
(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)