Philippines warns Easter holidaymakers to prepare for typhoon

MANILA (AFP) - Typhoon Maysak churned towards the Philippines on Friday, with disaster officials warning of the potential for storm surges, flash floods and landslides, while urging people spending Easter by the coast to be particularly cautious.

Although the storm is expected to grow weaker as it approaches land, the government weather station said it was still packing typhoon-intensity winds of 150khm with gusts of 185kmh.

"We don't want our public to have a false sense of security. It is still packing strong winds," the head of the civil defence office, Alexander Pama said.

The storm, which is moving at 15kmh, is expected to hit the northern provinces of Isabela and Aurora on Sunday morning, Pama said.

Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said local governments in those areas had warned people to stay away from the sea, with the mayor in the popular beach resort town of Baler in Aurora province taking special precautions.

"The mayor of Baler visited all the resorts and requested the tourists, if possible, to go home now before the storm... so they won't have to be evacuated later," she told AFP.

Millions of Filipinos have gone on holiday or returned to their hometowns for the Easter holidays.

The approaching typhoon could affect their travel, especially those taking ferries to cross the archipelago.

"We may have landslides on mountain slopes and flash floods in low lying areas," said Esperanza Cayanan, the weather station division chief.

She warned that tsunami-like storm surges of about three metres in height could accompany the typhoon.

Such storm surges caused much of the fatalities when Super typhoon Haiyan struck the country in November, 2013, leaving more than 7,350 dead or missing.

Maysak already ravaged the Federated States of Micronesia, leaving at least five dead, thousands homeless and crops destroyed.

Meanwhile, residents in the scattered Micronesian islands were rushing to secure shelter as signs of a fresh storm brewing threatened to hamper the Maysak relief efforts.

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