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Philippine storm warning: Avoid cemeteries

Philippines Asia Storm
Parts of the Philippines, like this area in Binan, south of Manila, are still swamped by floodwaters from typhoons last month.Aaron Favila / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Filipinos should avoid visiting cemeteries during this weekend's All Saints' Day celebrations because a new storm threatening the country could trap them there, making rescue difficult, the country's national disaster administrator said Wednesday.

Millions in the Philippines pay respects to dead relatives on Nov. 1 each year, a Roman Catholic tradition.

The country, however, is still struggling to recover from back-to-back storms that killed 929 in floods and landslides and affected more than 9 million people.

In some provinces, floodwaters raged through cemeteries, breaking up tombs and sweeping away caskets and bodies.

Forecasters are predicting that a new storm, Typhoon Mirinae, could hit the main island of Luzon on Saturday — the day before the holiday — and again inundate the northern region, said Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who leads the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

"Let us avoid visiting our relatives at the cemeteries, and if we really need to make a visit, we can do it earlier — before Saturday," Teodoro said. He said visitors "may be trapped there, or there may be traffic congestion that could delay the response and relief efforts that may have to be done."

About 122,000 people remain in government-run evacuation centers from the back-to-back storms, and many communities in the suburbs of the capital, Manila, remain under water, the disaster agency said.

The Philippine weather bureau said Typhoon Mirinae was about 870 miles east of Luzon on Wednesday afternoon. It packed sustained winds of 75 miles per hour with gusts of up to 94 mph and was moving toward Luzon at 14 mph.

Teodoro said the government is planning an early evacuation of areas that may be in the typhoon's path.