Typhoon Megi gathered strength as it barrelled towards the northern Philippines on Sunday, authorities warning of possible forced evacuations and the threat of landslides.
Megi, which has developed into a super typhoon, was expected to be the strongest typhoon of the year in China, forecasters there said, according to the state Xinhua news agency.
The Philippine state weather bureau said Megi, likely to make landfall in the country by Monday, could uproot trees, blow away houses made of light material, trigger landslides and cause storm surges in coastal areas.
|A pedestrian jumps over a puddle in a flooded street in Manila on October 16, 2010|
As of 11:00 am (0300 GMT), the typhoon was located 520 kilometres (322 miles) east of Cagayan province, on the northeastern coast of the main island of Luzon.
It packed maximum winds of 195 kilometres per hour near the centre and gusts of up to 230 kilometres per hour. Public storm alert warnings have already been hoisted over several northern Philippine provinces.
Norma Talosig, regional chief of the Office of Civil Defence, said the weather was deceptively calm over Cagayan on Sunday, although they expect it to change drastically within the day.
She said residents in low-lying areas as well as those in coastal communities were being advised to move to safer areas and if they refused they would be forcibly evacuated.
"If we have to conduct forced evacuations, we'll do it for their (residents') safety," Talosig said over national radio. "Our main objective is the safety of the community, the safety of the responders."
In Manila, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said food packs, medicine and rescue equipment, including rubber boats, are ready in areas expected to be lashed by the typhoon.
Council chief Benito Ramos said "preemptive evacuations" were being carried out in some townships in Cagayan, including near rivers that could overflow their banks.
National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said additional search and rescue teams from Manila were en route to the north to bolster forces there.
"We have also declared a full alert status all over the country," Cruz said.
The Philippines is battered by an estimated 20 typhoons a year, some of them deadly.
Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma struck Luzon within a week of each other in late September and early October last year, triggering the worst flooding in recent history.
The twin storms killed more than a thousand people, affected nearly 10 million and caused damage worth 4.3 billion dollars according to the World Bank and international humanitarian agencies.
China's National Meteorological Center said Megi was expected to enter the South China Sea on Monday and could cause wild winds and huge waves in the next three days, Xinhua said.