Manila - Philippine officials said on Thursday that thousands of villagers, including those from a central province devastated recently by an earthquake, are being evacuated as one of Asia's most powerful typhoons this year approaches.
Typhoon Haiyan was already packing sustained winds of 215km/h and ferocious gusts of 250km/h, and could pick up strength over the Pacific Ocean before it slams into the eastern Philippine province of Eastern Samar on Friday, according to government forecasters.
Eduardo del Rosario, who heads the government's main disaster-response agency, said governors and mayors were supervising the evacuation of thousands of residents away from landslide- and flood-prone communities in several provinces where the typhoon is expected to pass.
President Benigno Aquino III has ordered officials to aim for zero casualties.Haiyan is the 24th such storm to hit the Philippines this year.
The typhoon was not forecast to directly hit Bohol but the province was still expected to be lashed by strong wind and rain, government forecaster Jori Loiz said.
Army troops were helping transport food packs and other relief goods in hard-to-reach communities and rescue helicopters are on stand-by, the military said.
"My worst fear is that the eye of this typhoon will hit us. I hope we will be spared," Chatto told The Associated Press by telephone.
Haiyan was forecast to barrel through the country's central region on Friday and Saturday before it blows toward the South China Sea on Sunday. It was not expected to hit the densely populated capital, Manila, in the north, Loiz said.