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Powerful Typhoon Neoguri threatens northern Philippines and southern Japan

MANILA, Philippines - A strong typhoon was blowing over the Pacific Ocean in the northeastern Philippines on Sunday and may induce heavy rains, but is too far off to hit land, officials said.

Typhoon Neoguri was blowing with sustained winds of 185 kilometres (115 miles) per hour and gusts of 220 kph (136 mph) late Sunday about 840 kilometres (522 miles) off Cagayan, a rice- and tobacco-producing province, said government weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar.

The storm is expected to blow northwest and will be about 500 kilometres (310 miles) northeast of Batanes province in the Philippines' northern tip on Monday. It will then likely blow toward southern Japan later in the week, Escullar said.

Alexander Pama, who heads the Philippines' disaster-response agency, warned fishing boats and small sea vessels not to venture off the country's eastern coast.

While no public disaster warnings have been issued, officials said Neoguri would enhance the southwest monsoon and possibly bring heavy rains and thunderstorms to the northern Philippines. Pama urged landslide- and flood-prone northern villages to closely monitor weather reports.

Neoguri is the sixth storm to hit the country this year and the first of the rainy season, which began last month. About 20 typhoons and less powerful storms batter the Philippines each year, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

The nation is still struggling to recover from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 6,300 people, left more than 1,000 missing and displaced 4 million in the central Philippines last November.

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