Thousands of people were evacuated and several flights were cancelled Friday as super typhoon Hagupit moved toward the Philippines, according to media reports. The category 5 storm is expected to make landfall on Saturday.
The Philippine Coast Guard reportedly cancelled sea travel leaving over 2,000 people stranded at ports in Manila, central Philippines and Mindanao island. Typhoon Hagupit gained strength with wind gusts of up to 170 miles per hour and was about 620 miles southeast of Manila at 11 a.m. local time (10 p.m. EST), NBC News reported. The storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall with strong winds that could threaten life in the region. Local residents, many of them still living in temporary shelters after last year's typhoon Haiyan, have been asked to evacuate coastal areas, BBC reported.
"We've warned them early to move away from shore, not just anchor their ships, because previously they just anchored their ships ... The waves lifted them and washed them ashore," Armand Balilo, a coastguard spokesman, told Reuters.
Meteorologists reportedly said that the new storm has the capability of causing massive damage in the island nation, which is still recovering from typhoon Haiyan that left more than 7,300 people dead. It was earlier speculated that Hagupit would shift north toward Japan, but on Thursday it gained momentum and moved toward the eastern coast of the Philippines.
"We have alerted the people of Manila and we're ready," Manila city Mayor Joseph Estrada reportedly said, adding "these typhoons change direction all the time."
Forecasting website Tropical Storm Risk reportedly predicted that the typhoon could weaken to a category 4 storm when it makes landfall on Saturday.