New: Super Typhoon Nock-ten has forced the closure of ports, stranding thousands
New: The typhoon has weakened but is still equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane
Super Typhoon Nock-ten has left more than 11,000 passengers stranded after roaring into the Philippines and forcing the closure of ports in the Southeast Asian country.
The typhoon, known locally as Nina, made landfall over Bato in the province of Catanduanes at 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) on Christmas day.
Authorities rushed to evacuate thousands of residents from low-lying areas of the eastern Philippines ahead of Nock-ten’s arrival and the provinces of Catanduanes and Albay were declared under a “state of imminent danger/disaster.”
Some 11,476 passengers, more than 1,000 cargo ships and over a dozen other vessels were stranded in various ports in the region, the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported Sunday.
Philippines Coast Guard spokesman Armand Balilo told CNN the storm had forced various ports to temporarily close. But he said travel was resuming in some parts and the number of stranded was expected to decrease in the coming hours.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that as of 8 a.m local time on Monday, 77,560 families – 383,097 people – were in evacuation centers in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol and Easter Visayas.
Nock-ten is weakening as it passes over the Philippines, but is still packing maximum sustained winds of 240 kph (149 mph) with gusts up to 296 kph (184 mph), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) reports.
It remains a category 4 equivalent, according to CNN’s Severe Weather Team.
The storm is expected to traverse the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Southern Quezon, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite, moving west at 15 kph (9 mph).
The Philippines’ tropical cyclone warning signal number 4 has been hoisted for Catanduanes and neighboring Camarines Sur. The warning signal, the second-highest level on the scale of alerts, indicates the storm could cause “heavy damage” to high-risk structures. Rice, corn and coconut plantations will likely suffer severe losses.
A storm surge height of up to 2.5 meters is possible over the coastal areas of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Catanduanes, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
PAGASA reports that the typhoon will cause moderate to heavy rainfall in a 500-kilometer (311-mile) radius.
Forecasters warned that the storm could bring lashing winds and dump heavy rain in several areas across of the country.
There are fears that Nock-ten could potentially bring flooding to the capital, Manila – one of the most densely populated urban centers of the country.
The Philippines has been battered by devastating typhoons in recent years, most notably Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 – considered to be among the strongest storms to make landfall. Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people and forced nearly 4 million people from their homes.
CNN’s Taylor Ward, Derek Van Dam, Susannah Cullinane and Jennifer Varian contributed to this report.