Philippines raises alert for strong typhoon, Ketsana toll up to 277

Philippines raises alert for strong typhoon, Ketsana toll up to 277Manila  - The Philippine weather bureau Thursday raised the alert for a powerful typhoon that is expected to hit the country just one week after storm Ketsana killed at least 277 people.

Typhoon Parma is packing maximum winds of 175 kilometres per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 210 kph. The system was moving west-north-west at 24 kph.

Parma was expected to make landfall in the northern province of Aurora on Saturday, chief weather forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

"We would like to warn the public that we are dealing with a very strong typhoon," he said. "Our main concern with Parma is its disastrous winds."

Cruz said there was "little chance" that Parma would spare the Philippines.

"Let us prepare not just for heavy rains but for strong winds and let's all pray," he said.

Parma could hamper relief efforts for more than 2 million people affected by the worst flooding in over 40 years in Manila and outlying provinces.

The devastating floods were caused by storm Ketsana, which dumped more than one month's worth of rain in Manila in just nine hours on September 26.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said 277 people were confirmed killed in floods, landslides and other accidents caused by Ketsana, with 42 still missing.

More than 680,000 people were staying in evacuation centres as many houses were destroyed by landslides and muddy floods that engulfed Manila and nearby provinces.

Damage to property and agriculture was estimated at 4.8 billion pesos (102 million dollars). (dpa)