posted at 21:50
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Fear as typhoon bears down on Philippines
The storm, which would be the strongest to hit the country this year, is forecast to impact eastern provinces devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last year although there are conflicting projections from various weather agencies over its direct path. People across the Southeast Asian archipelago were heeding government warnings to make early preparations as the state weather agency PAGASA said the typhoon was expected to generate winds of 215 kilometres an hour and giant storm surges. There was also confusion as to where the eye of the typhoon would pass, with Pagasa and various foreign government typhoon monitoring agencies projecting different paths. Pagasa predicted the worst of the typhoon would hit the eastern provinces of Samar and Leyte, which were the most badly damaged during Haiyan, then cut across the central Philippines. The US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicted it would travel slightly north of Samar, then cut west and pass directly over Manila, the nation's capital with a population of more than 12 million people. The US agency on Friday downgraded Hagupit from the maximum super typhoon category to typhoon status, reporting its wind strength had weakened from Haiyan-like 300 kilometres an hour to about 230 kilometres an hour. Still, this would make the Hagupit the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. The Philippines is often the first major landmass hit by typhoons and major tropical storms that are created in the Pacific Ocean.

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