Manila: Philippine authorities on Saturday warned that a powerful typhoon will likely linger over the country for almost three days, bringing prolonged heavy rain, possible floods and sparking storm surges.
Hundreds of people have already been evacuated from the northeastern provinces in the face of the approaching Typhoon Koppu, possibly the second most powerful storm to strike the disaster-prone country this year, civil defence officials said.
The typhoon is expected to make landfall early tomorrow and will not leave the archipelago until Tuesday, the government weather station said.
Weather station director Espie Cayanan said the storm, which has sustained winds of 160 kilometres (100 miles) per hour and gusts of 195 kilometres per hour, could strengthen as it gets closer to the country.
Due to its interaction with another nearby weather disturbance, Typhoon Koppu may move slowly across the northern end of the main Philippine island of Luzon, she warned.
"It may be semi-stationary once it hits," Cayanan told reporters.
The typhoon, moving at 10 kilometres per hour, is expected to make landfall in the northeastern province of Aurora before curving north over Luzon and eventually moving out to sea, she added.
Although the storm will not directly hit the capital, Manila, Cayanan warned that its diameter was so huge that even the southern regions were likely to be affected by strong winds and rain.
Areas hit by the typhoon will suffer "heavy to intense rainfall" with possible tsunami-like storm surges in coastal areas.
Civil defence officials warned that waves as high as 14 metres (46 feet) could occur at sea and banned all vessels from sailing in over half the country.
They also warned of possible floods in river basins and urged residents to heed orders to evacuate ahead of any incident.
"If you are told you need to evacuate, then we appeal to you to evacuate," civil defence chief Alexander Pama said.
He also urged the public to cancel any travel plans over the weekend.
President Benigno Aquino's spokeswoman Abigail Valte said that government agencies had prepared for the storm, stockpiling relief goods and heavy equipment which may be needed for rescue and repair efforts.
"The government is prepared for this and has undertaken all the necessary measures to ensure that we reach our zero-casualty target," she told reporters.