Tens of thousands of people in the Philippines have sought shelter as powerful Typhoon Hagupit heads towards the country.
Typhoon Hagupit, or Ruby in the Philippines, has gusts of up to 143mph and is due to hit land on Saturday evening.
It is on course for the Eastern and Northern Samar provinces and the city of Tacloban, where thousands were killed by Typhoon Haiyan a year ago.
Local residents, many of them still living in temporary shelters, are moving away from coastal areas.
President Benigno Aquino, who met disaster agency chiefs on December 5, has ordered food supplies to be sent to affected areas, as well as military troops and police officers to be deployed to prevent looting in the aftermath.
Typhoon Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – was the most powerful typhoon ever recorded over land. It tore though the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,000 dead or missing.
The latest update from Philippine weather authorities said that Hagupit, which means “smash” in Filipino, was weakening slightly, though it still has powerful gusts.
It could bring storm surges up to one storey high, as well as heavy rain and the risk of landslides, officials have warned.
Schools and government offices are closed in some areas and there were long queues at shops and petrol stations as people stocked up on supplies.
In Tacloban, many people have taken shelter in the sports stadium.
About 19,000 people from coastal villages are in 26 evacuation centers, Tacloban’s disaster office spokesman Ilderando Bernadas told Reuters.
He said that number was expected to double was the authorities began forcing people to evacuate.
The Philippine weather authorities said that as of 16:00 local time on December 5 Hagupit was 230 miles east of Eastern Samar and moving at 8 mph, a relatively slow speed.
Typhoon Hagupit has weakened slightly, but still remains powerful, with sustained winds of 120 mph and gusts of up to 145 mph. Up to 35 provinces and municipalities are likely to be affected.
The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center had classified Hagupit as a super typhoon but downgraded it on Friday morning. It remains the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year.
Meteorologists had said there was a chance Hagupit could veer north towards Japan and miss the Philippines altogether, but this scenario is increasingly seen as unlikely.
The Philippines gives its own names to typhoons once they move into Philippine waters, rather than using the international storm-naming system.
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