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Fox News Weather Center

Thousands flee Philippines coast due to impending typhoon

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March 31, 2015: Typhoon Maysak taken by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from the International Space Station. (AP)

Thousands of residents and tourists were told to leave the northeastern Philippines' coastline ahead of Typhoon Maysak, which is barreling from the Pacific after killing four people and destroying hundreds of homes in Micronesia.

The weather bureau said winds and rains will start battering the eastern seaboard of the main island of Luzon late Saturday before the typhoon makes landfall early Sunday. It has picked up speed with sustained winds of 81 miles per hour and gusts of up to 100 mph.

The off-season typhoon comes as the nation marks Holy Week when many local and foreign tourists visit beach resorts, including popular surfing areas in the north.

Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Cheche Cabrera said that in Aurora province alone, which is facing the Pacific and lies on the typhoon's path, about 10,000 visitors mostly Filipinos were told to leave beach resorts and inns.

Maysak, first forecast as a supertyphoon, has weakened but "it is still a typhoon and it will bring strong winds," said Esperanza Cayanan of the Philippine weather bureau.

It left a path of destruction in Micronesia, sweeping through Chuuk state's numerous islands and passing just north of Yap state's outer islands Wednesday. The storm killed four people and left extensive damage.

"The critical hours will be in the evening Saturday," said Philippine Civil Defense Administrator Alexander Pama. "We need to double up the preparations because it is harder to move around in the dark."

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Austere Panadero said the typhoon could affect 33 cities and close to 500 towns in more than two dozen provinces. Pre-emptive evacuations have been ordered in communities prone to flash floods and landslides, Panadero said.

Mayor Nelianto Bihasa of Baler, capital of Aurora province, on Friday ordered all tourists in resorts to leave or face forced evacuation. He also told resort owners to advise guests headed to Baler to postpone trips.

About 20 storms and typhoons enter the Philippines yearly. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest on record to make landfall, devastated the central Philippines, claiming more than 7,300 lives.