Storm forces school closures, evacuations in Philippines

August 23, 2022 GMT
In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, rescuers carry vegetables as they move them to safer grounds in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province, northern Philippines on Tuesday Aug. 23, 2022. A tropical storm lashed the northern Philippines with strong wind and rain Tuesday, injuring at least two people and prompting the president to close schools and government offices in the capital and outlying provinces. (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)
In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, rescuers carry vegetables as they move them to safer grounds in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province, northern Philippines on Tuesday Aug. 23, 2022. A tropical storm lashed the northern Philippines with strong wind and rain Tuesday, injuring at least two people and prompting the president to close schools and government offices in the capital and outlying provinces. (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)
In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, rescuers carry vegetables as they move them to safer grounds in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province, northern Philippines on Tuesday Aug. 23, 2022. A tropical storm lashed the northern Philippines with strong wind and rain Tuesday, injuring at least two people and prompting the president to close schools and government offices in the capital and outlying provinces. (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)
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In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, rescuers carry vegetables as they move them to safer grounds in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province, northern Philippines on Tuesday Aug. 23, 2022. A tropical storm lashed the northern Philippines with strong wind and rain Tuesday, injuring at least two people and prompting the president to close schools and government offices in the capital and outlying provinces. (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)
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In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, rescuers carry vegetables as they move them to safer grounds in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province, northern Philippines on Tuesday Aug. 23, 2022. A tropical storm lashed the northern Philippines with strong wind and rain Tuesday, injuring at least two people and prompting the president to close schools and government offices in the capital and outlying provinces. (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A tropical storm lashed the northern Philippines with strong winds and rain Tuesday, injuring at least two people and prompting the president to close schools and government offices in the capital and outlying provinces.

Tropical Storm Ma-on weakened slightly as it blew northwestward across mountainous northern provinces with sustained winds of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 125 kph (78 mph) after slamming into Maconacon town in Isabela province on Tuesday morning, government forecasters said.

The storm will start to blow away from the country overnight and head toward southern China, they said.

Although the storm’s onslaught was felt mainly in the northern tip of the main Luzon region, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. suspended classes in all public schools and government work in the densely populated capital region and in six outlying provinces as a precaution.

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“The heavy rains pose possible risks to the general public,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said.

The school closures came a day after millions of primary and secondary students trooped back to schools across the Philippines for their first face-to-face classes after two years of coronavirus lockdowns.

Two villagers were injured and taken to hospitals after being hit by falling trees in Cagayan province, safety officer Rueli Rapsing said by telephone, adding more than 2,000 people were evacuated from villages that were prone to flash floods, landslides and tidal surges.

Some of the provinces which felt the brunt of the storm were still recovering from the devastation caused by a powerful earthquake last month, sparking concerns that such areas would be more susceptible to landslides.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year and lies in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active arc of volcanos and fault lines in the Pacific Basin, making the archipelago one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.