SUPER TYPHOON VEERS NORTH, SPARES RP

Manila, April 20, 2003 -- A powerful typhoon that had threatened to strike 
the country over Easter is now expected to deliver only a mild swipe to 
eastern and northern parts of Luzon, the Philippine Atmospheric, 
Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Sunday.

Typhoon Amang-- named Kujira internationally -- had threatened to disrupt 
the holiday as hundreds of thousands of people travelled around the country 
over the four-day break.
Pagasa, however, said the storm, packing gusts of up to 170 kph (105.6 
mph), was now expected to pass by Luzon without making landfall.

"The center may not hit land but spiral bands may effect eastern sections 
of extreme northern Luzon," forecaster Bobby Rivera said on local television.

A storm warning was in force for Catanduanes, but the rest of the country 
had escaped largely unscathed, Pagasa said.

The coast guard said there were no reports of missing vessels and only one 
ferry voyage between Catanduanes and Albay had been cancelled as a precaution.

The rough weather was unseasonably early for the country, which usually 
sees typhoons from June to November.

The most destructive typhoon to hit the country was Thelma, which struck 
Leyte in November 1991 and unleashed massive floods in Ormoc City that 
drowned about 5,000 people. In November 1995, 772 people were killed when 
Typhoon Angela hammered Luzon.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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