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Strong typhoon threatens Philippines, strands thousands

MANILA: More than 3,000 passengers were stranded on piers in the northeastern Philippines on Sunday, as a strong typhoon approached and prompted authorities to suspend ferry services and warn people to brace for possible flash floods and landslides.
Government forecasters told a televised news conference that Typhoon Utor, with winds of 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) and gusts up to 185 kph (115 mph), could gather strength over the Philippine Sea before it slams into northeastern Aurora province Monday.
Utor, the strongest typhoon to threaten the country this year, was about 120 kilometers (75 miles) off northeast Catanduanes province by midday Sunday. It was blowing northwestward at 19 kph (12 mph), state forecaster Jori Loiz said.
At least 31 passenger and cargo ferries were not allowed to venture out in increasingly choppy seas from several northeastern provinces, stranding more than 3,400 passengers. Authorities also stopped fishing boats from sailing and ordered fishermen already at sea to return to shore, said Office of Civil Defense regional director Bernardo Alejandro IV.
Utor is the 12th of about 20 storms and typhoons expected to lash the Philippines this year.