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Palau, Philippines brace for Typhoon Bopha

Shirley Escalante in Manila, and staff, Monday December 3, 2012 - 07:17 EDT

Parts of the island nation of Palau in the western Pacific are being affected by a powerful typhoon.

The National Weather Service in Guam says Super Typhoon Bopha is carrying winds of up to 250 kilometres an hour.

Meteorologist Derek Williams says Bopha has the potential to be as devastating as Cylone Tracy which hit the northern Australian city of Darwin in 1974, killing 71 people.

Mr Williams says although Palau's main island has been spared a direct hit, southern outer islands have not been so fortunate and can expect to be inundated over the coming hours.

"Surf, 25 feet or greater... some of those islands are not even 10 feet in height so there's going to be some overwash and pretty high inundation of those smaller islands," Mr Williams told Radio Australia.

Palau is a small Pacific nation of around 21,000 people located to the east of the southern Philippines.

Typhoons rarely hit Palau, which is outside the main typhoon zone.

On high alert

Parts of the central and southeastern Philippines have also been placed on typhoon alert.

Super Typhoon Bopha, known locally as Pablo, is now expected to make landfall over the Philippines on Tuesday.

Thousands of people along the country's eastern border will be evacuated to safer ground in preparation for the typhoon.

Relief food and medicines have been pre-positioned and evacuation centres on standby.

Meteorologists say the typhoon will bring heavy rains and strong winds reaching over 200 kilometres an hour, over an area of 700 kilometres.

The typhoon is stronger than another weather disturbance which devastated the southern Mindanao island and killed more than 1,200 people at about the same time last year.


© ABC 2012

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