Palau 'narrowly escapes' typhoon Pablo

MANILA, Philippines - The island nation of Palau "narrowly escaped" the wrath of typhoon Pablo (Bopha), reports said Monday, December 3, after it changed course at the last minute.

Earlier forecasts saw the typhoon making landfall on the island, but it changed its path a bit as it neared the area.

"It was headed right towards Palau and at the last minute it turned to the west and fortunately went south of [the islands]," Derek Williams of the US National Weather Service in Guam said, speaking in an interview with Radio Australia.

Wind gusts of up to 70 mi/h (112 km/h) were recorded in the capital city of Koror, he said.

Williams said the speed of the typhoon "prevented a lot of flooding" on the island, but it still did considerable damage to the area.

Trees were down, and power outages are reported to be widespread on the island. The extent of the damage on the island will still be known in the next few hours.

He added that the typhoon is still considered a "pretty powerful typhoon" once it hits Mindanao in 24 hours.

Palau is usually not along the path of typhoons, Radio Australia noted.

The small state is also within the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), the area of jurisdiction for the Philippine state weather bureau PAGASA.

The typhoon, which has weakened slightly according to PAGASA, was last spotted 620 km southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur (6.8°N 132.2°E), carrying maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h near the center and gusts of up to 210 km/h. -