More than 43,000 people have been evacuated and schools in six provinces have suspended classes as the eastern islands of the Philippines braced for Typhoon Kammuri to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday.
The storm, packing wind gusts as high as 115 miles per hour, was barreling toward the Philippines on Monday with its eye 220 miles east of the city of Virac on the island province of Catanduanes, the national weather agency said.
The typhoon is poised to strike the Philippines just after President Rodrigo Duterte, joined by the politician and boxing star Manny Pacquiao, presided over the opening of the Southeast Asian Games, a biannual sports event that draws top athletes from 11 Southeast Asian nations.
The Games are scheduled to run through Dec. 11, and organizers have said that the typhoon may cause the cancellation of outdoor events on the island of Luzon in the country’s north. This year’s Games have been touted as the biggest yet, with more than 8,000 athletes competing and hundreds of millions of television viewers expected to tune in from around the region.
Heavy rains were expected in Manila and populous cities nearby, and disaster agencies have stockpiled food and medicine. The authorities have yet to issue mandatory evacuation orders, saying that all evacuations so far were pre-emptive. Residents were asked to check local weather advisories and government social media accounts as the typhoon continued to move toward landfall.
Kammuri, the 20th storm to hit the Philippines this year, was reported to be following the same path as Typhoon Rammasun, which killed more than 100 people in July 2014.
The Philippines is regularly exposed to powerful typhoons. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall, tearing through the Philippines at record speed. Massive storm surges shredded the central city of Tacloban, washing whole neighborhoods away. Haiyan left more than 7,300 dead in its wake and displaced over 650,000 people.
Jason Gutierrez contributed reporting.