MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines evacuated eastern coastal areas, suspended ferry services and closed schools in parts of the main Luzon island on Tuesday, as the strongest storm to hit the country since Typhoon Haiyan last year charted a direct course for the capital Manila.
Typhoon Rammasun, with gusts of up to 150 kph and maximum winds of 120 kph near the centre, was expected to make landfall over the eastern province of Albay and Sorsogon within hours.
Tropical Storm Risk described Rammasun, expected to bring moderate to intense rainfall of up to 25 mm per hour within its 500-km radius, as a category-one typhoon in a scale of one to five.
It is the strongest storm to threaten the country since Haiyan, a category-five "super typhoon", wiped out nearly everything in its path when it crossed the central Philippines in November.
On its current path, Rammasun will also be the first to score a direct hit on Manila in at least four years, the weather bureau said. The storm will pass north of Eastern Samar and Leyte, the provinces worst hit by Haiyan, where some residents are still living in tent cities due to the slow progress in typhoon rebuilding. But these areas may still experience heavy rain and strong winds.
Storm surges of up to three metres were expected in coastal villages, the weather bureau said. Albay province has ordered the evacuation of low-lying and coastal areas, as well as landslide-prone villages, the province's website said.