Thousands of people have been evacuated in the north-eastern and central Philippines, ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Noul.
The storm is predicted to reach category four with peak winds reaching 195 kilometres an hour, and is expected to hit the north-eastern Philippines on Sunday before veering north-west and heading towards Japan.
More than 11,000 people were brought to safer ground in villages surrounding the restive volcano Bulusan against the threat of volcanic deposit flows during heavy rain.
Officials warned that heavy rain from the typhoon could cause “lahar” (flows of mud and debris) around Mount Bulusan, a volcano that has been spewing ash this week in the eastern province of Sorsogon.
“With regards to the amount of rainfall, our recommendation is again vigilance and readiness of communities in predetermined lahar hazard zones,” Philippine volcanology bureau research specialist Winchelle Sevilla said.
Officials have designated schools and gymnasiums as possible shelters.
In the eastern Isabela province, rescue boats, ambulances and supplies have been shipped to coastal areas, ahead of Noul’s onslaught.
“We have pre-positioned medicines and medical supplies in the regions to be affected,” a health department spokesperson said.
Thousands of passengers have already been stranded in seaports along the central and eastern Philippines after authorities stopped vessels from sailing because of rough seas.
Noul was also expected to trigger landslides and flash floods, with government officials alerting regional offices along the storm’s projected path by text, email and phone calls.
The National Disaster Agency said at a pre-disaster preparedness meeting in Manila that it had alerted the local governments in the affected areas to prepare evacuation shelters, equipment and relief goods for any eventualities.
“We are continuously monitoring, including the gradual increase of the level of preparedness of all the LGUs (Local Government Units), and we expect that before it hits, or before we feel the effects in the Bicol region, we will have more than 90 per cent or approaching 100 per cent on our preparedness level for these areas,” department of interior and local government information chief Allan Tabell said.
The typhoon, the fourth to hit the South-East Asian country this year, was expected to bring heavy to intense rainfall when it makes landfall in the north-east, the weather bureau said.
It was then expected to weaken as it headed towards the Japanese island of Okinawa by Tuesday.
An average of 20 typhoons cross the Philippines annually.
Super Typhoon Haiyan was the most destructive in recent years, leaving more than 8,000 people dead or injured in 2013.