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MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines began evacuating thousands of people in northern areas prone to floods and landslides on Tuesday ahead of a powerful typhoon that has gained strength over the Pacific, officials said.
Typhoon Lupit, which means "fierce" in Filipino, was expected to make landfall around the far northern tip of the Luzon region by Thursday and dump more rain on typhoon-weary provinces, said Prisco Nilo, head of the weather bureau.
The Philippines is still recovering from two recent typhoons -- Ketsana and Parma -- which brought record-high rainfall that flooded the capital Manila and large swathes of farmland in northern provinces. More than 850 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
"Lupit is expected to be a much stronger typhoon than the two weather systems we had in the last four weeks," Nilo told reporters.
Lupit, a category 4 typhoon with centre winds of 195 kph (121 mph) and with gusts of up to 230 kph, was 890 km (553 miles) east of northern Cagayan province, the weather bureau said.
Thousands of residents in northern coastal and mountain areas had started to move to safer areas, said Lieutenant-Colonel Ernesto Torres, spokesman for the national disaster agency.
"Our troops in the field are assisting local government units in the pre-emptive evacuation of disaster-prone areas in the north," Torres told reporters.
The Philippine air force had also airlifted food, water and medicine to remote areas.
Ketsana and Parma damaged or destroyed more than 27 billion pesos ($580 million) in crops and infrastructure.
(Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco and Dean Yates)

Reuters