The Philippines has put troops on alert and prepared food and medical supplies as it warned residents and tourists along its eastern coast to be ready for a super typhoon, expected to land some time in the next 72 hours.
Typhoon Maysak, initially a top-rated category 5 typhoon, weakened slightly as it moved towards the Philippines, speeding over the Pacific Ocean with winds gusting up to 225 km/h, the Philippines weather bureau said.
It is expected to further weaken once it hits the central or northern parts of the nation’s main island, Luzon, on Saturday or Sunday, as it celebrates the Easter weekend.
“This is very strong and it will maintain its strength as it nears, although we expect that the typhoon will weaken,” Esperanza Cayanan, an officer at the weather bureau, said in a televised briefing.
“But [Maysak] will still be typhoon intensity so it will bring strong winds when it makes landfall on the eastern coast,” Mr Cayanan said.
British-based Tropical Storm Risk said Maysak would likely weaken to a category 2 typhoon, with maximum winds of up to 175 km/h, when it hits land.
The typhoon could damage rice and corn crops in central and northern areas of the Philippines, although damage is likely to be minimal because the major harvest was finished around February.
Alexander Pama, executive director of the national disaster agency, said the biggest challenge for authorities would be keeping foreign and domestic tourists travelling to northern provinces for the weekend safe when Maysak makes landfall.
Thousands of Filipinos have already begun travelling to the provinces and popular tourist spots before the Easter weekend.
Maysak is not expected to make landfall where another category 5 typhoon, Haiyan, struck more than a year ago, leaving nearly 8,000 dead or missing.