Manila (dpa) – Philippine authorities on Friday prepared evacuation plans and deployed emergency teams and relief supplies as Typhoon Koppu barrelled towards the country’s north-eastern coast.
Koppu was packing maximum winds of 130 kilometres per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 160 kph as it moved west at a speed of 15 kph, the weather bureau said.
The typhoon was expected to bring heavy to intense rains over an area 550 kilometres in diametre, the bureau warned.
Storm signal warnings were raised over 25 northern and eastern provinces, including the capital of Manila, ahead of Koppu’s possible landfall late Saturday or early Sunday.
An estimated 7.5 million people would need assistance as Koppu was expected to bring continous heavy rains for up to 12 hours, said President Benigno Aquino.
“I call on all Filipinos to avoid panicking,” he said in a televised address. “Let us prepare as we should – monitor the news, and understand the warnings issued by national and local governments.”
Aquino said the government has prepared food packs, first aid kits and medicines for faster distribution to affected communities, as well as readied heavy equipment to clear roads of debris.
The military and police have also been on standby to help in any emergency, he added.
“We are ready to evacuate residents if needed,” said Norma Talosig, director of a regional civil defence office covering some of the northern provinces being threatened by Koppu.
“Those that are likely to be affected have been advised to prepare to move out anytime,” she added. “The liquor ban is in place, there is a no-sail policy and no swimming is allowed now.”
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 cyclones every year, causing floods, landslides and other accidents.
The strongest typhoon hit the country in November 2013, killing more than 6,300 people. Typhoon Haiyan also displaced more than 4 million people after it wiped our entire village in the central Philippines.