Hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines are evacuating coastal villages and landslide-prone areas ahead of a powerful typhoon, even as the country continues to recover from a deadly super typhoon that struck about a year ago.
Weather forecasters warn Typhoon Hagupit - Filipino for "smash" - is expected to slam into East Samar province late Saturday with sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 250 kilometers per hour.
East Samar and other central provinces were devastated last year by Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 7,300 people and was measured as the most powerful storm ever recorded on land. Thousands of people in the region still live in tents.
However, a forecast by the U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center is Hawaii said Hagupit may instead veer northward after making landfall and possibly threaten the capital, Manila.
In a meeting with emergency officials Thursday, President Benigno Aquino ordered steps to prevent panic buying and food hoarding. He also called for officials to "prepare for everything."
The Southeast Asian nation has faced unusually severe storms in the past few years, including Typhoon Bopha, which killed or left missing more than 1,900 people in 2012.