Over 51,000 people evacuated in southern Philippines as storm approaches

The Philippines have moved over 51,000 people to safer grounds as the approaching tropical storm Dujuan flooded parts of the southern and central Philippines, a government disaster agency said on Sunday.

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The Office of Civil Defense said the government has evacuated over 51,000 people in the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, and Dinagat Islands Sunday morning due to massive flooding.

Dujuan, the country's first storm this year, is expected to make landfall on Monday morning, the state weather bureau said in a bulletin.

As of 7:00 p.m. local time, the weather bureau said Dujuan was located 275 km east of Surigao City in Surigao del Norte province in the southern Philippines. It is moving northwestward at 25 km per hour, packing maximum sustained winds of 65 km per hour with gusts of up to 80 km per hour, the bureau said.

"(Dujuan) is forecast to maintain its strength in the next 12 hours. However, the likelihood of weakening into a tropical depression before it makes landfall is not yet ruled out," the weather bureau added, warning of heavy rains and rough seas.

"Under these conditions, isolated to scattered flooding (including flash floods) and rain-induced landslides are likely during heavy or prolonged rainfall especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards as identified in hazard maps," the bureau said.

Dujuan will affect several provinces in the southern Luzon island, the central Philippines, and the Mindanao region in the southern part of the country, the bureau warned.

Typhoons and tropical storms regularly batter the Philippines from June through December, claiming hundreds of lives and cause billions of dollars in damages.

Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is among the most disaster-prone countries, including active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes, and an average of 20 typhoons a year, causing floods and landslides.