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Typhoon weakens, threatens Easter plans in Philippines

    TRMM captured this image at 14:15 UTC on March 31, 2015 that shows the rain intensities within the very heart of Super Typhoon Maysak as it undergoes an eye wall replacement cycle. Image Credit: SSAI/NASA GSFC, Hal Pierce

MANILA, Philippines >> A super typhoon blamed for the deaths of at least four people on islands in the western Pacific Ocean has weakened after reaching Philippine waters and is expected to further lose strength as it approaches the country’s northeastern coast, officials said Thursday.

Esperanza Cayanan, an officer of the government’s weather bureau, said as of Thursday morning Typhoon Maysak was 569 miles northeast of eastern Borongan city, packing winds of 109 miles per hour and gusts of up to 124 mph. It is moving northwest at 12 mph.

Officials said they had readied rescue teams and relief goods to prepare for Maysak’s landfall Saturday evening or early Sunday in northeastern Aurora or Isabela provinces and warned tourists headed to beaches for the Easter holidays to exercise caution.

Storm surges of up to nearly 10 feet tall are possible in the eastern coast, while moderate to heavy rains are expected within a 124-mile radius from the typhoon’s eye.

The weather bureau is set to issue a low-level storm warning later Thursday for the eastern provinces, which will suspend sea travel. The military went on alert Wednesday in the northern Philippines.

Cayanan said the storm was expected to weaken further after making landfall, and that it was possible it would be downgraded to a storm or tropical depression as it crosses land.

The typhoon threatens holiday plans in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, where Filipinos travel to their home provinces and to resorts.

It left a path of destruction in Micronesia, sweeping through Chuuk state’s numerous islands and passing just north of Yap state’s outer islands Wednesday. The storm killed four people, said Andrew Yatilman, director of the country’s Office of Environment and Emergency Management.

Officials are assessing the damage, which is extensive. The storm destroyed 830 homes by blowing down houses mostly made of wood with tin roofing and displaced 6,760 residents in Chuuk who are staying in schools and churches, said Frank Cholymay, the state’s disaster coordinator.

Falling trees caused some of the deaths, and a flying piece of wood fatally struck a child, Cholymay said. Crews worked to clear large fallen trees, power poles and debris from roadways, officials said.

The outer islands in the northwest region of Chuuk and the Ulithi islands in Yap state also reported flood damage and freshwater contamination from seawater inundation, Yatilman said.

The Chuuk and Yap governors both declared states of emergency, as Micronesia President Manny Mori mobilized relief efforts.

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