The Philippines ordered the evacuation of northern coastal, low-lying and mountainous areas on Wednesday as the strongest typhoon to threaten in three years was forecast to make landfall later in the day.
Typhoon Haima, referred to as Lawin in the Philippines, has been labeled a category 5 storm on a scale of 1 to 5 by Tropical Storm Risk and could cause flooding, landslides and storm surges of up to five meters (16.5 ft), the weather bureau said.
Typhoon Haima, which was packing sustained winds of 225 kilometers (140 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 315 kph (195 mph), was tracked 275 kilometers (170 miles) over the Philippine Sea and was expected to slam into coast around midnight Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
Haima is forecast to track over the northern part of Luzon in the northern Philippines. Landfall on the eastern coast of Luzon near Kinayabutan Beach in Baggao is likely to occur on Wednesday night, local time.
Some places across Luzon received over 400 mm (16 inches) of rain when former Typhoon Sarika moved through less than a week ago, further increasing the risk for major flooding across the region.
Some flights and classes have been suspended and the Philippine Coast Guard has banned sea travel and fishing. The weather bureau raised storm warning signals for the northern and eastern parts of main island of Luzon, home to industrial and export centers.
"The typhoon is very strong and destructive because of its large diameter," said Rene Paciente, assistant weather services chief at the weather bureau.
Haima is the 12th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. An average of 20 typhoons hit the Southeast Asian nation every year.
The government and aid agencies have learned that massive evacuations can save lives.
Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines in 2013. Haiyan became the strongest storm on record to make landfall when it hit the central Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, killing 6,300 people and displacing 4.1 million more. Overall, it affected 14 million people across nine regions – 14 percent of the country's total population. In 2014, The Christian Science Monitor reported on recovery efforts:
Aid groups and humanitarians across the world have praised the ongoing recovery from typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which many say has largely delivered on its promise to "build back better" in the year since the massive storm hit.
Billions of dollars from the Philippines government and international donors have helped people in the hardest hit regions restore their lives – from rebuilding roads and replanting crops to providing much-needed medical care and sanitation. But much work remains, as many survivors are still without permanent housing and suitable livelihoods.
"We are humbled by the extraordinary resilience of the Filipino people," Luiza Carvalho, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines, said Thursday. "Despite the unprecedented destruction and tragedy that struck," Ms. Carvalho said, Filipinos pushed through "to this point where recovery is well underway."