People in the northern Philippines have been advised to evacuate to safer places as Typhoon Haima is expected to barrel through the area in the coming hours.
Allan Tabel, the chief of the Philippine Interior Ministry's disaster and information coordinating center, said on Wednesday that Haima, one of the strongest typhoons to ever hit the country, would touch remote communities in the far north at about 11:00 p.m.
“Those in these areas, you are in danger. Find safer ground,” said Tabel, adding, “It's not just heavy rain and strong winds that we are expecting. It's also floods, landslides and storm surges in coastal areas.”
Forecasts by the state weather bureau said Haima would generate sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour and gusts of 315 kilometers per hour, almost at the same level as catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan, which claimed more than 7,350 lives in 2013.
The Filipino disaster risk management agency said the typhoon would sweep across the northern parts of the Philippines' main island of Luzon, affecting more than 10 million people.
Storm surges of up to five meters were expected in coastal areas, authorities warned the local communities, although it was anticipated that the typhoon would mostly affect not densely-populated areas in its direct path.
Storms generated over the Pacific Ocean often hit the Philippines as the first major landmass before approaching the southern coasts of China and other countries. About 20 major storms are recorded in Southeast Asian archipelago each year with most of them inflicting casualties.
Haiyan was the deadliest of such typhoons which left huge destruction in heavily-populated areas of the central Philippines three years ago.
Experts said Haima could be the second strongest next to Haiyan with the main difference being the fact that it would affect areas where people were more used to strong storms and were well-drilled in preparations. The storm will be felt in its highest strength in Luzon on Thursday, before approaching southern Hong Kong and southern China.
Typhoon Sarika also hit the northern Philippines days earlier leaving one dead and three more unaccounted for.