Thousands in Philippines flee Typhoon Ramon

MANILA, Philippines – At least 5,000 people have fled their homes with Typhoon Ramon (Kalmaegi) poised to blast into the northern Philippines late Tuesday, November 19, with a second tropical storm forecast to hit just days later.

Ramon is expected to batter the nation's lightly populated far north with 120 kilometers per hour winds, the national weather service said.

Heavy rains are forecast to swell rivers, cut off roads and threaten low-lying communities in Cagayan province, where officials guided residents towards shelter.

"We're expecting falling trees and houses that could be inundated by floods," provincial police chief Ariel Quilang told Agence France-Presse.

Forecasters believe a second tropical storm could make landfall in the same province by Thursday, November 21.

The disaster-prone nation is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and condemning many areas in their path to perpetual poverty.

The weather bureau raised landslide warnings across the mountainous interior of the country's north, also warning of floods and waves up to two meters (6.5 feet) high in coastal areas.

At least a dozen domestic flights have been canceled and schools shut down due to Ramon, while small sea vessels were ordered to stay ashore with gale conditions forecast at sea.

The Philippines' deadliest cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013. –