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MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines deployed emergency teams across flooded and landslide-hit areas in northern regions of the main Luzon island Monday as a powerful typhoon moved closer, weeks after two storms killed more than 850 people. Lupit, a category 4 typhoon packing centre winds of 175 kph (108 mph) and gusts of up to 210 kph, was expected to hit land Thursday. It was hovering at 1,160 kms (720 miles) east of the northern Cagayan province Monday, said weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo. Soldiers, police officers and civilian emergency teams have been positioned for possible rescue and relief operations, said Lieutenant-Colonel Ernesto Torres, spokesman for the national disaster agency. "We've sent helicopters, rubber boats and engineering units near disaster-prone areas to quickly respond to any contingency," Torres said, adding food, water, medicines and relief goods have been stockpiled across the northern regions. Local government officials were asked to prepare for a pre-emptive evacuation of residents in low-lying and landslide-prone areas to minimise death and destruction, Torres said. Nilo said coastal areas were vulnerable to storm surges that could generate giant waves while landslides were also expected in the northern mountain regions, where several villages were buried by mud early this month due to rains brought by Typhoon Parma. "It has remained almost stationary but it is expected to move westward slowly and make landfall by Thursday unless it changes direction," Nilo told reporters on Typhoon Lupit. Two powerful typhoons -- Ketsana and Parma -- had dumped record-high rain that submerged 80 percent of the capital region and wide farmlands in the northern provinces, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The typhoons damaged or destroyed nearly 27 billion pesos (353 million pounds) in crops and infrastructure. The Philippines, grappling with the impact of the two devastating typhoons, is now studying the sale of special reconstruction bonds to fund rebuilding as well as tapping grants and low-cost loans. (Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco and Jerry Norton)

Reuters