Typhoon Yolanda Gaining Momentum as Philippines Gets Ready for Battering
Typhoon Yolanda Gaining Momentum as Philippines Gets Ready for Battering - (Pagasa)

Typhoon Yolanda, locally known as Haiyan, is fast gaining momentum before intensifying into a super typhoon as the authorities in the Philippines have ordered large-scale evacuation and placed emergency workers on high alert.

Experts predict the tropical storm is likely to be more powerful than Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), which devastated the region in 2012 killing more than 1,000 people.

"We are advising the people to secure their homes because we are expecting a powerful typhoon, a super typhoon. It's still in the Pacific but it has gained speed and may enter our area of responsibility by tomorrow [7 November]," said Secretary of Science and Technology Mario Montejo.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Yolanda is already packing sustained winds up to 185kmph.

The eye of the storm is still hovering over the Pacific Ocean and could easily gain strength in the next few hours, say forecasters.

The latest storm is also threatening to wreak havoc on the island of Bohol, which was recently devastated by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The quake claimed the lives of at least 200 people and the latest typhoon threatens to destroy more houses.

Yolanda is expected to reach super typhoon category before making landfall over the central Philippines, said the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC). Storms with sustaining winds up to 215kmph are classified under the "super typhoon" category.

"Due to very favourable environmental conditions, rapid intensification is forecast over the next 48 hours with a peak intensity of 130 knots [241kmph]," said forecasters at the JTWC.

The storm is predicted to make landfall on the afternoon of 8 November and move past the Philippines on 10 November.

Meanwhile, the authorities are racing against time to deal with the aftermath of the super storm.

"The provincial government is rushing the distribution of additional tents and other relief goods for those who are still staying in open spaces in makeshift tents. All municipal mayors are under orders to conduct pre-emptive evacuation of residents still staying near river banks and mountain slopes as the rains could trigger landslides and flooding," said Tootsie Escobia, spokesman of the Bohol provincial government.

Authorities have shut down transportation and schools in the areas, where the storm is likely to cause maximum damage.