Tropical storm intensifies into typhoon, pounds eastern Philippines with winds, rain

A tropical storm intensified into a Category 2 typhoon Wednesday as it pounded the eastern Philippines with high winds and heavy rains, stranding thousands of ferry passengers.

Xangsane became the 10th typhoon this season, packing maximum winds of 165 kilometers (103 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 205 kph (128 mph) as it slammed into Northern Samar province on its way to the central Bicol region, about 280 kilometers (175 miles) southeast of Manila.

The typhoon will cross Central Luzon, bringing rains to metropolitan Manila on Thursday and Friday before moving into the South China Sea, heading for Vietnam on Sunday, forecasters said.

Radio reports said thousands of ferry passengers were stranded after the coast guard barred vessels from leaving ports, including in the country's second largest city of Cebu, reports AP.

In the coastal province of Albay, schools were closed and the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Office ordered residents of towns in the typhoon's path to move to evacuation centers because of possible storm surges, landslides and flash floods.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 storms and typhoons a year.

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