MANILA, July 22 The Philippines raised storm
alert levels on Tuesday as Typhoon Matmo threatened to drench
the extreme north of the main island of Luzon with heavy rain as
it churned toward Taiwan and mainland China.
Packing sustained winds of 130 kph (80 mph) and gusts of up
to 160 kph, Matmo was moving at 24 kph northwest towards central
The storm was estimated to be about 180 km (112 miles) north
of Batanes group of islands on Tuesday morning.
Storm alert number 2 was raised in the Batanes, where 7.5 to
15 mm per hour of rainfall was expected on Tuesday. The typhoon
was also expected to bring rain to other parts of Luzon.
Retired Admiral Alexander Pama, executive director of the
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said
the government had suspended sea travel and prevented small
fishing boats from venturing into the area.
"We do not expect the typhoon to make landfall anywhere in
the country but we are still advising our people in the smaller
islands in northern Luzon to take extra precautions," Pama said.
"We continue to track the typhoon and we expect it to exit
the Philippine area of responsibility on Wednesday afternoon."
Matmo came days after super Typhoon Rammasun killed nearly
100 people and destroyed 7.3 billion pesos ($168.46 million) of
crops and infrastructure.
Wide areas of the southern half of Luzon remain without
power after the storm toppled transmission lines and electric
Nearly 600 people were stranded in three ports in northern
Luzon after 11 ferries suspended service until the storm passes.
At least 10 domestic flights were also cancelled. Schools were
closed in northern Luzon.
Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China
Sea, picking up strength from the warm waters and dissipating
($1 = 43.3350 pesos)
(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Kim Coghill)