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Villagers flee 162mph winds as Philippines hit by typhoon

Thousands of villagers were fleeing to safety last night and a massive emergency response was put in place as a super typhoon bore down on the Philippines.

With sustained winds of 140mph and gusts of 162mph, Typhoon Megi is the strongest typhoon to threaten the country since a 2006 howler with 155mph winds set off volcanic mudslides that buried entire villages, killing about 1,000 people.

Forecasters fear it could could strengthen as it moves west over the Philippine Sea where it is expected to slam into Cagayan province early this morning.

"This is like preparing for war," said Benito Ramos, a top disaster-response official. "We know the past lessons and we're aiming for zero casualties."

Tropical Storm Risk said Megi had intensified into a category 5 super typhoon, which is the highest rating, and would retain that strength as it crossed the island of Luzon today.

The government advised up to 7 million people in its direct path to stock up on food and medicine.

Government forecasters said waves off the east coast could be greater than 14 metres (46ft), and advised against travel to the region as Megi could bring flash flooding, landslides and storm surges.

The capital of the Philippines, Manila, was not expected to be affected by the typhoon.

Irish Independent