Officials in the Philippines said Friday they will order the evacuation of thousands of residents of Aurora province, on the east coast of the northern island of Luzon, and have asked tourists to consider leaving the region before Typhoon Maysak makes landfall this weekend. Despite the storm’s continued advance, an estimated 10,000 tourists are on the province’s Baler Bay to surf and to celebrate the Easter holiday, Reuters reported.
Typhoon Maysak was expected to hit Luzon, the Philippines’ most populous island, by Easter Sunday. The storm weakened this week from a category 5 ranking to category 2, but was still expected to bring heavy rains and winds of up to 115 mph. Baler Bay, with its thousands of tourists and approximately 36,000 permanent residents, lies right in the storm’s path.
Authorities have designated more than 50 gyms and schools as potential shelters for the area’s inhabitants. Townsfolk were warned Friday to stay out of the ocean ahead of the storm. “Tomorrow we will impose a pre-emptive evacuation to escape from the typhoon,” the Aurora disaster council’s head engineer, Elson Egargue, told Reuters.
The typhoon continues to weaken and may be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hits the Philippines’ main island. But even then, the storm’s winds would be powerful enough to damage to homes and pull trees out of the ground. Authorities also warned of possible landslides and flash floods, according to the Australian Broadcasting Company.
Maysak, known as “Chedeng” in the Philippines, reached the peak of its power Tuesday. It was briefly designated “super typhoon” and achieved sustained winds of up to 160 mph, according to Weather.com. The storm was just the third super typhoon of its power on record and just the sixth super typhoon ever to occur before April.
Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013, killing more than 6,000 people and injuring tens of thousands more, CNN noted. It was one of the powerful storms ever recorded to make landfall.