Philippine officials say thousands of villagers, including those from a central province devastated recently by an earthquake, are being evacuated ahead of the arrival of one of Asia's most powerful typhoons this year.

Gorvernment forecasters said Thursday that Typhoon Haiyan was packing sustained winds of 215 kilometers (134 miles) per hour and ferocious gusts of 250 kph (155 mph) and could pick up strength over the Pacific Ocean before it slams into the eastern Philippine province of Eastern Samar on Friday.

The head of government's main disaster-response agency Eduardo del Rosario says governors and mayors are overseeing the evacuation of thousands of residents from landslide- and flood-prone communities, including central Bohol province, which was hit by a 7.2-magnitude killer quake last month.