Philippine authorities began evacuating people from coastal areas on Sunday and hundreds of people were unable to travel by sea as a super typhoon headed towards the country.
Super Typhoon Noru was packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 185 km/h (115 mph) after an unprecedented “explosive intensification”, the state meteorologist said.
The storm, the strongest to hit the Philippines this year, is expected to continue to strengthen as it makes landfall about 80km northeast of the sprawling capital, Manila, in the afternoon or evening time. local.
“We ask residents living in dangerous areas to respect evacuation calls whenever necessary,” Philippine National Police Chief General Rodolfo Azurin said.
The Philippines is regularly ravaged by storms, with scientists warning they are becoming more powerful as the world warms due to climate change.
Meteorologist Robb Gile said Noru’s rapid intensification was “unprecedented”. The agency said it rose 90 km/h in 24 hours.
Noru comes nine months after another super typhoon devastated swathes of the country, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Residents of several municipalities in Quezon province, where this latest storm could hit directly, have been evacuated from their homes, said Mel Avenilla of the provincial disaster office.
“I have instructed our mayors to adhere to strict preventive evacuations,” Helen Tan, governor of Quezon province, told DZRH radio station. Fishermen from coastal communities were barred from setting sail, she said.
In neighboring Aurora province, residents of Dingalan municipality were forced to seek refuge.
Noru could have wind speeds of up to 205 km/h when it makes landfall, the weather bureau said.
It is expected to weaken into a typhoon as it sweeps across central Luzon, before entering the South China Sea on Monday, heading towards Vietnam.
The weather bureau has warned of dangerous storm surges, widespread flooding and landslides as the storm dumps heavy rain.
This could damage farmland in the heavily agricultural region and flood villages.
The Philippines – ranked among the nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – are hit by an average of 20 storms a year.
Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report