Typhoon Haiyan
Category 5 Yolanda moving towards Philippines with winds of up to 280km/h .

Authorities have evacuated thousands of people from villages in the central Philippines as the country braces itself for one of the year's strongest typhoons.

Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, was making its way towards the southeast Asian nation with winds of up to 280km/h (173mph).

Areas in the path of the storm were already experiencing strong winds and heavy rains and schools and offices were closed.

Evacuations were also ordered in the island of Bohol, where residents were still getting their lives back together after an earthquake killed more than 200 people in October.

Five thousand displaced residents were still living in tents after losing their homes in the 7.3-magnitude quake.

President Benigno Aquino III issued a televised warning for people to leave high-risk areas, including 100 coastal communities where the storm was expected to produce wavesup to 7 metres (23ft) high.

He said that "war-like preparations" had been made to ensure minimum casualties.

"We have already gone through a lot this year," he said. "As always, no storm can bring a united Filipino people to its knees. It is my hope that we all stay safe in the coming days."

"This is a very dangerous typhoon, local officials know where the vulnerable areas are and have given instructions on evacuations," state weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar said.

"There are not too many mountains in its path to deflect the force of impact, making it more dangerous."

Haiyan is the 24th such storm to hit the Philippines this year.

Forecasters said it would barrel through the archipelago's central region on Friday and Saturday before heading up towards Vietnam.

Typhoon Yolanda: Philippines Disaster Prevention Website Hacked as Storm Looms