Authorities in the Philippines have evacuated towns on the main island of Luzon as Super Typhoon Noru made landfall on Sunday afternoon, local time.
Noru is the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, with gusts of up to 195 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour).
The storm made landfall on Polillo Island, 90 kilometers (almost 50 miles) north of the capital, Manila, which is home to 13 million people. Authorities have warned of potential flash floods, landslides and tidal surges.
"We ask residents living in danger zones to adhere to calls for evacuation whenever necessary," said Philippine National Police chief General Rodolfo Azurin.
Residents seek shelter
Residents in certain municipalities along the eastern seaboard have evacuated their homes and sought shelter as the storm nears. Ferries and fishing boats have also been barred from leaving port.
On Monday, schools in Manila and surrounding areas will be closed and nonessential services will be suspended. Trading on the Philippine Stock Exchange will also be suspended on Monday, the exchange announced on Sunday.
"I asked our mayors to comply with strict preemptive evacuations," Helen Tan, governor of the neighboring Quezon province, told the DZRH radio station.
The Philippine Coast Guard said more than 2,000 passengers had been left stranded by ferry cancellations due to the storm.
'A good recipe for explosive intensification'
Noru comes nine months after another super typhoon devastated large parts of the country, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Robb Gile, a forecaster at the state weather bureau PAGASA, said Noru's rapid intensification as it neared land was "unprecedented."
"Typhoons are like engines — you need a fuel and an exhaust to function," Gile said.
"In the case of [Noru], it has a good fuel because it has plenty of warm waters along its track and then there is a good exhaust in the upper level of the atmosphere — so it's a good recipe for explosive intensification."
zc/wd (AFP, Reuters)